High perimeter walls with barbed wire, armed guards with walkie-talkies posted round-the-clock, surveillance cameras, adequate lights and regular drills are some steps the Union home ministry wants schools to take following the Peshawar massacre .
Above all, teachers and children shouldn’t panic, says the countrywide advisory from the ministry, in response to which schools in and round Delhi have beefed up security on their campuses.
“The last place people would think of terrorists striking was their child’s school, which fit to a T (as in terrorism and threat) because it is a soft target and brings staggering body counts … amply demonstrated by the barbaric slaughter of 132 children at a military-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday,” a security expert said.
The horrific scenes from Peshawar played out on TV prom-pted Delhi Public School, Noida, to cancel scheduled activities and instead devote time to strengthening its security system.
Schools like Amity, Pushp Vihar, already have CCTV cameras, armed guards and night patrols. They were doing drills for students and staff members.
Shri Ram Schools at Vasant Vihar and Gurgaon have issued identity cards to vendors outside their premises while Laxman Public School at Hauz Khas has increased the length of barbed wire on the boundary wall and deployed additional guards at the gates.
The heightened security could be discomforting for parents and children alike, a prospect Delhi Police officers were aware of. “We want to reassure the people that the measures are being taken for their security and there is no need to panic,” said Madhur Verma, DCP (north).
The measures were in tandem with the ministry’s exhaustive to-do list for schools. “These are basically standard operating procedures for schools… first shared in 2010. In the wake of the Peshawar attack, the ministry has again shared it,” an official said.
A source said the elite National Security Guard has been helping some popular schools in their drills after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. “Some army-run educational institutions were identified as vulnerable in the wake of 26/11. The NSG often conducts mock exercises there.”
The preventive steps were not only for terror strikes but also for kidnapping, random shooting, armed intrusion to take hostages and bombs placed on campus.
“Each school should have a concrete boundary wall, with three to four gates, and each gate should be manned by at least three guards on a 24-hour basis,” says the advisory. In the event of an attack, children and teachers should stay put in classrooms and never act rashly.