Maharashtra State Security Corporation guards deployed at Monorail stations upset at having .410 musket rifles dumped on them, which they say are of no use during emergencies
With the city witnessing a string of terror attacks in the recent past, you would think arming security personnel at vital installations with modern-day weaponry would be top priority. But a ride on the recently inaugurated monorail system, built with modern engineering, proves otherwise.
The Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) personnel deployed by the state home department to secure the monorail have been armed with the outdated rifle musket (.410) — a weapon similar to the one used in the 1857 uprising.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.
‘Only for time being’
The Director General of MSSC, K P Raghuvanshi said, “Automatic weapons cannot be given for such places (monorail) and the weapons that have been provided to the MSSC guards are for the time being. When the requirement arises, we will upgrade the weapons.”
Meanwhile, the guards deployed at the stations have expressed concern over the decision to arm them with these outdated weapons. A guard, on condition of anonymity, said, “We were provided advanced weapons during training, but when we were deployed at the monorail station we were given a musket. These are not only outdated, but are of no use in case of any emergency situations like a terror attack.”
He added, “The .410 muskets have been discarded even by the Mumbai Police.”
Another guard said, “We had training sessions at Goregaon and Panvel for seven weeks. During this duration, eight days were earmarked for weapons training. At a training session in Worli, we were trained to use the musket. The musket is very heavy and takes a couple of minutes to reload.”
With the monorail ferrying thousands of passengers every day, talks were on to employ Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel for the security. But the state later decided to deploy MSSC guards at the stations. MSSC guards have also been assigned the task of manning the yet-to- -be-started metro rail, and according to officials they are planning to arm them with sophisticated self-loading rifles here.
When asked why CISF personnel were not assigned the security charge, MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawathkar said, “The decision to deploy MSSC guards at monorail and metro stations has been taken by the state home department.”
Number of security guards (male and female) at monorail stations
Rs 1 crore
The amount MMRDA pays to MSSC every month for guarding the stations, according to an MMRDA official
Facts of .410 musket rifle
>> .410 is the oldest version of the rifle. Then came the .303 series
>> Even the barrel of .410 is different from that of .303 rifles
>> Unlike .303 rifles, which have a 10-bullet magazine, .410 rifles need to be loaded after every shot
>> .410 rifle has become obsolete and even ammunition is unavailable, as the ordinance factory has discontinued it
>> The bullets that are currently available belong to the rifles discarded by the city police force
>> The rifle was one of those used during the uprising of 1857
>> .410 rifles were used by the police constables deployed as guards
>> The weapon is fit to be kept in a museum and cannot be used during any combat operations
Weight: 4 kg
Total length of the rifle: 49 inches
Length of the barrel: 30.2 inches
-- As told by a Mumbai police source
The MSSC is a counterpart of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and was formed on April 19, 2010, following a statute state legislature passed. One of the reasons for its formation was to provide security to various government offices, local municipal corporations, banks, malls and religious places. MSSC guards have been given the status of public servants under IPC section 21. They are also special police officers under Section 17 of the MSSC Act. Unlike private security guards, those provided by MSSC have the power to arrest without warrant.