Robbery at the two automated teller machines (ATMs) in Hoshiarpur has put a question mark over the security checks missing at the cash outlets.
The ATMs in both town and villages in the district failed Thursday's reality check. The majority was unguarded even during daytime, and some were isolated. The shops around the Central Bank of India ATM at Lakkar Mandi on Railway Road are closed even during day, and at night, the entire area is deserted. Same is the situation at sites in Dheena village, Circular Road, Gopal Nagar, and New Grain Market.
Leave the ATMs, even some of the banks have not deployed night guards, even though in April last year, the Punjab and Sind Bank lockers at Reru village on the Pathankot road were broken into. The mystery is unsolved. Even in the posh Guru Gobind Singh Avenue, three ATMs and two banks are unprotected at night. The banks promise "safe custody" of the wealth inside those lockers.
"In the NRI-dominated Doaba region, even in the villages leading banks compete to open more branches but when it comes to security, they do nothing," said superintendent of police Rajinder Singh. Police have written to the higher authorities of every bank to ask for guards and hidden cameras at every ATM.
Even in the urban centres, meetings with the bank managers and even warnings have been unfruitful, additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) Naresh Dogra has said, adding that an attempt to break open an ATM was made in Basti Bawa Khel as well. "The police patrol teams have orders to check at the banks and ATMs regularly, for which an entry register is kept at the outlets, but still it is the banks' responsibility also to secure their ventures," said the ADCP.
On November 16, `8 lakh was looted from an ATM in Phillaur. "The surveillance camera caught two masked men entering the chamber and spraying a substance on spy gadget," said station house officer (SHO) concerned Sarabjit Singh Rai. They took just 10 minutes to break open the ATM. "It seems, a specialist gang was at all crime scenes in the state, as the modus operandi in all heists was the same," said the police officer. A top most official of one of the nationalised banks said on the condition of anonymity that it was not viable for the banks to deploy guards at every ATM.
259 in urban areas
86 in rural areas
291in rural areas
116in semi-urban area
263in urban areas