On Saturday, May 10, this paper carried a front page report on how Monorail security guards have been provided with an outdated rifle musket the .410 to be precise to provide security to this fairly new arm of the city’s transport network.
The report stated that the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) personnel deployed by the state home department to secure the Monorail have been armed with a weapon similar to the one used in the 1857 uprising. A musket is a muzzle-loaded firearm, which has to be fired from the shoulder.
Although some variations of these weapons can still be seen in the hands of security guards manning banks and other government installations, the musket is ineffective in a terror attack, as it reloads slowly.
It is shocking that such a vital piece of infrastructure has security carrying outdated equipment. With this, it is evident that Mumbai, despite all protests to the contrary, has failed to learn from earlier terror attacks.
Mumbai’s transport network has always been a huge target for terrorists. There have been bomb blasts on Mumbai locals in the past. Railway stations are prime targets because of their accessibility, dense crowds and they make easy getaways.
Who can forget 26/11 in Mumbai where the CST saw so many people being gunned down? While there, the terrorists had tremendous firepower, we should remember how our police simply did not have guns; some of them got stuck while firing, others used sticks or ‘lathis’ to combat them, and still other security personnel could not fire, because they had no target practice.
Even in the five-star hotels, it was heart-wrenching and disgusting at the same time to watch the Indian police trying to match that kind of firepower with the guns they had. How can Mumbai profess to step up security and the ability to fight terror, if such vital infrastructure has security with obsolete guns? It makes it all the more important that security personnel are well-equipped to combat a strike of any kind.