Security loopholes: Going to the mall may not be safe in Mumbai
Two times in the past week, a few men carrying guns managed to enter a crowded mall in Kurla. Both times, they were able to pass through the security checks and frisking at the entrance.
The men were police officers dressed in plain clothes, who walked in with firearms to check security measures at the mall.
On Friday, a case against the administration of the Phoenix Marketcity in Kurla was registered for alleged gaps in safety measures.
The action follows not just these two instances, but three other times earlier, when under instructions from police commissioner Rakesh Maria, the Mumbai police sent decoys in with firearms.
The first time the Ghatkopar police checked the mall was on July 19, a Sunday, when crowds flock to the mall. The second time was on Friday, July 24.
“I had given a written appeal to the mall administration to beef up security. They should have installed metal detectors and other safety measures, especially because the mall got a footfall of close to 50,000 people during the Eid weekend, when we first entered with the firearms,” said Venkat Patil, the police inspector of Ghatkopar police station, whose team carried out the checks.
A case has been registered under sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code, and the police have asked other malls too to beef up their security.
“We will initiate action if there is a loophole in security measures. It is high time malls pulled up their socks. Safety measures should be a priority at places where a large number of people visit. The frisking of customers should be made foolproof,” said Vinay Rathod, deputy commissioner of police, Zone 7.
Mumbai police sources said large public spaces, such as malls and theatres across the city, have been repeatedly told to up security, but they have observed that many of them fall short, even after specific alerts were issued.
Even this week’s incidents come at a time when security measures have been beefed up in the city to prepare for any backlash that could develop because of the talk of hanging of 1993 blasts convict Yakub Memon.
The safety drive
* Police chief Rakesh Maria has formed a team of officers to check the security measures malls have in place and how prepared they are to handle an emergency
* As loopholes were found during checks, senior police inspectors were also roped in
* One such check under a senior inspector exposed loopholes in safety measures at the Kurla mall – the team managed to enter with their service guns and went undetected
* What malls/ public spaces should have
* The police administration has asked malls to instal CCTV cameras, hand-held metal detectors, baggage scanners and increase security personnel amongst.