With the Nairobi attack throwing the spotlight on mall security at home, police checks point to a disturbingly high risk for shoppers in Mumbai’s malls.
Since January, 200 cops have been sent as decoys to check security preparedness at shopping complexes. Of these, some 165 could breach various security layers by passing undetected with weapons and other destructive substances. That’s an over 80% security failure.
With the alarmingly frequent safety breakdowns, a concerned police department has now decided to revoke licences of establishments inside malls, if they don’t have foolproof security. “We have drawn around 20 security guidelines that need to be followed religiously by the establishments. If they are not adhered to, we will cancel the licences of the defaulting multiplexes. Since malls don’t need any licence from police, we may cancel licences of the establishments they house, such as eateries and gaming corner,” said a police officer from the Protection Branch.
The establishments will be required to display the security certificates given by the Protection Branch, just as they do their permits.
The Mumbai police protection branch, headed by additional commissioner of police Madhukar Pandey, had recently decided to grade vital establishments -- such as multiplexes, financial and religious institutions, hospitals, schools and so on -- on a scale of A to F, A implying that all 20 security parameters decided by police on are met.
“There are around 160 malls and multiplexes in the city. We held a conclave with their owners, and we will send them notices once the security grading system is formulated and the ratings announced. Those that don’t follow the norms even after that might face cancellation of licences of establishments inside the malls,” said Pandey.
In public interest
A Protection Branch officer said, “We are trying to be as objective as possible while giving the security ratings. We don’t want that somebody bribes and takes an A grade at the cost of security, and a terror attack follows. We have also decided to tally the grades with the standards maintained by the mall after the rating. The grades will be declared to the press so people know how safe are the malls they go to.”
The police are also planning to similarly rate hotels, schools, financial institutions, religious institutions and hospitals, so they can face action for not following security regulations.
Ratings to be declared soon
In a meeting of senior officials of the Mumbai police force, it was decided that licences of multiplexes and establishments inside malls be cancelled, if the installations do not strictly follow the security guidelines laid down by the police.
A proposal to this effect was passed by the state government, and the police’s Protection Branch is now working on grading of establishments.
Though police officials refused to share details about the security threats at any specific mall at this moment, they said the grading would be declared to the press soon.
Number of malls and multiplexes in the city
Security failure during mock drills
20-point security guidelines
>> Thorough checking of every person entering the establishment
>> Private security guards should be trained in handling explosives; Mumbai police is willing to train them
>> Every vehicle, including goods vehicles, entering the mall or multiplex should be checked
>> CCTVs should be installed; they should be able to store footage for a minimum of 30 days
>> Armed guards should be deployed
>> Public announcement systems (PAS) and emergency routes should be present
>> Cross-verification of employees
- Alarm systems
>> Playing dead helped family escape 4-day mall horror
>> Investigators search for clues as terrorists claim 137 killed
>> Terrorists rented store nearby, studied blue prints of mall before attack
>> US malls boost security
Nairobi: Westgate mall attack
Around 10-15 al-Shabab terrorists held the mall hostage for over 75 hours
Wearing bandanas as masks, armed with AK-47s the terrorists stormed the mall but released few, who identified themselves as Muslims
One of the cafes on the ground floor of the Westgate mall was reportedly owned by Jews
The Nairobi gunmen and their handlers used social media to work up fear and announce their intentions.
Mumbai: 26/11 attack
10 terrorists of the LeT held separate properties in South Mumbai in a siege-like situation for about 60 hours in 2008
Gunmen armed with AK-47s stormed a crowded public space spraying gunfire, tossing grenades, killing and wounding dozens and taking hostages before holing themselves up
The Mumbai attackers picked the Chabad House too, an orthodox Israeli religious centre in Colaba while also attacking Café Leopold, another hub for foreign tourists
The Mumbai attackers were in touch with their handlers in Pakistan over satellite phones