Security at the city’s most famous Ganesh pandal, Lalbaugcha Raja, was not as tight as it should have been in the backdrop of possible terror attacks during the 10-day festival.
This is what a report, prepared by the Special Branch of the Mumbai police, has said.
The Hindustan Times accessed the report that was sent to the city’s police commissioner last week. The report has thrashed the security measures at the pandal.
The report said the doorframe metal detectors were unmanned and people were walking through without being stopped and checked. “Although some security officers had hand-held detectors, they were not used. Even hand bags were not checked,” the report said.
Sanjeev Dayal, police commissioner, said: “It is always better to have an audit report of this kind to help us prepare better for the future,” Dayal said.
“When you have devotees waiting in queues 8-km long, it’s always a challenge to man the crowd.”
The report also said private security guards at the mandal did not wear any badges and there was no information on whether a responsible authority had checked their background. Sunil Joshi, a committee member of the Lalbaugcha Raja mandal, said the private security guards belonged to a security agency. “Senior police officers know about them. They were here last year too,” he said adding that the men had identity cards.
The document claimed security personnel were more interested in getting their relatives inside the pandal and often abandoned their posts to do that.
There was a short cut to the pandal that was left unguarded and even when two policemen were guarding it later they were not given wireless sets to alert others, it added.
“Passes issued to local residents were not coded and different people used the same pass to enter,” the report said. The report also said at times, when the gates were crowded, the police would let people pass without checking them. “Given the terror alert, this was very dangerous.”
The report also said volunteers often helped unauthorised people to walk through. “There were no indicators [for emergency exits] and even volunteers did not know about emergency escape routes,” the report said.