Piecemeal security leaves CST a sitting duck
CR is still leaving major loopholes unplugged in its security system, 4 years since the 26/11 carnage at CST; plans are in place for 6 new luggage scanners in entrances to the main line, but major entry-exit points for local train commuters have been neglected, leaving the entire suburban section vulnerable
The Central Railway (CR) is ready with brand new, state-of-the-art, foolproof baggage scanners for its seminal CST station, with the ostensible intention of keeping tabs on what or who passes through its portals. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the railway authority’s plans for the placement of the same machines, which are far from foolproof.
In a month’s time, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) will be installing the baggage scanners at six points of entry into CST station. The irony of this plan lies in the fact that the authorities have overlooked two obvious spots where scanning would be of crucial importance: the entrance near Anjuman-e-Islam school, and the other entrance that leads to the subway. This means that the entire suburban section is left exposed and vulnerable. “We will be installing these scanners at six spots, including the main hall which connects the suburban line to the main line. The passengers walking from the main line entrance have to get their bags scanned, whether they are using the main line or the suburban lines,” said a senior official from RPF.
According to sources in the RPF, initial plans had intended to install some baggage scanners in the suburban section as well. However, the authorities changed their mind out of fear that the presence of the scanners would impede the flow of commuters in peak hours and create chaos. This, in a station that witnessed a bloodbath in the 26/11-terror strike, with a maximum number of victims being slain by militants within its premises.
Eleven brand new baggage scanners have already been purchased and kept at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, awaiting installation – of these, six will be installed at CST. Three scanners will replace the existing ones opposite the taxi stand, two will be installed on platform number 18, and one will be placed in the main hall opposite the GRP office, which connects the suburban section to the main line.
The new high-tech baggage scanners are believed to be more powerful than the existing ones.
Alok Bohra, divisional security commissioner, CR, RPF, said, “These baggage scanners would be installed in the main line area of CST railway station and will be a great help for us from the security point of view.”
The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its report for the year 2011-12, had criticised the Railways for delaying the implementation of an integrated security system at CST station, where over 50 passengers were slain after terrorists Ajmal Qasab and Ismail Khan opened fire on them on November 26, 2008.
The integrated security system was formulated in July 2008, months before the attack, and the deadline set for its implementation was March 2010. Years have passed, but the system is still a distant dream, notwithstanding the fact that CR floated the tender for the implementation of the system in July 2011.
Number of passengers who pass through CST every day
Number of baggage scanners that will be placed at CST
Number of platforms at CST (11 for main line and 7 for suburban)