Can MSF's age-old weapons ensure Maharashtra's security?
Maharashtra Security Force languishing with 3,500 contractual employees and old SLR rifles
MSF commandos guard the Monorail Wadala Terminus
At a time when the nation’s security has become a matter of concern, the state’s very own Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) languishes with about 3,500 contractual employees and age-old SLR rifles. It seems that the Force, which was constituted exclusively for protecting vital installations in the state, is slowly moving towards oblivion, jeopardising the state’s security.
Post 26/11, many suggestions were put forward to enhance the security of the state. The Ram Pradhan Committee had proposed constituting a Force that would have the expertise of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the ability to protect vital installations. The MSF was constituted in 2010 under Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC).
Since the inception of MSF, it has been in a poor condition. Initially, the recruitment was carried out as per the norms of Maharashtra Police, but later the candidates in the waiting list of the state police force were hired.
Guarding 60 vital installations
At present, the MSF guards 60 vital installations across the state, which includes Reserve Bank of India, ONGC plant and monorail and Metro stations. It has also been approached by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to provide security to hospitals. Even the Panvel Corporation is keen on hiring MSF commandos.
Do the weapons work?
The MSF commandos, who are expected to face critical situations, have been provided SLR .303 rifles. A commando said, “Some of us even have musket rifles, which the Mumbai Police stopped using two years ago. I feel ashamed to hold such an old rifle. Also I am not sure whether it will work at the time of emergency or not.”
At present, 2,659 commandos have been deployed by MSF at different installations. Though the Force charges Rs 20,000 from clients for a security guard, the commando actually gets paid somewhere around Rs12,800. The authorities straightaway deduct the money from the original amount that they had quoted to the client.
Deduction in salaries
When contacted, an office bearer of MSF said, “This is a corporation, it doesn’t get any grant or funds from the government. So we have to take out some money from the employees’ salaries to run the organisation. We send the candidates for residential training and provide them the best facility. The expenses have to come from somewhere, hence we do this.”
All is well, says MD
Sharing a different perspective, MSF managing director KL Bishnoi said. “The MSF has been constituted to lessen the burden of the local police, so that they get more time to maintain law and order. We have trained guards and officers, who can tackle any situation.” When asked about the condition of the weapons that the commandos use, he said, “There is no issue with the working of the weapons. We have ordered for more. They will arrive soon. The Force is running as per the guidelines of the government.”