Kolkata: Entering Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro station (Tollygunge) without undergoing security check is too easy. At 12:36 pm on Wednesday, no security personnel (normally those with khakis wielding archaic .303 bolt action rifles) were not visible, at the entry and exit point. Besides the door frame metal detector stood two guards with hand held scanner, engaged in petty talks and reluctant enough to check the commuter’s bags. It was visible that undergoing the check is totally voluntary.
The same scenario was seen at Kavi Subhash metro station, where although a few security personnel were present none were armed and it was clear that in the event of an attack, the country’s oldest metro is sitting duck. The New Garia train station adjacent to the metro station is no exception and no security personnel or baggage check is visible.
Our correspondent captured the scene at Mahanayak Uttam Kumar metro station and kavi Subhash Metro station in video despite a prohibitory order against photography and videography. The unprofessionalism of the guards and the obsolete weapons have rendered the metro station too vulnerable to terror attacks. Despite several ‘alerts’ issued by intelligence agencies of possible terror attack in the city, security arrangements in the metro stations are deplorable.
In the above photo captured by our correspondent, an uninterested guard holding a scanner is busy chatting while passengers are passing by without any security check.
When contacted for a statement the metro rail spokesperson did not pick up the phone.
Operating since the start of the Kolkata Metro 1984, its 27-km stretch is the city’s lifeline, carrying five lakh passengers every day. Metro Railway carried 43.83 lakh passengers, 6 per cent more than last year, during a week-long Durga Puja celebrations as pandal hoppers preferred the underground network to reach their destinations from south to north of the metropolis.
“The security arrangement at metro stations is full of loopholes. The metro rail is unprepared to combat a terror attack,” said Bikash Kumar Chattopadhyay, former assistant commissioner of Kolkata police, who is a daily commuter on metro rail, told Hindustan Times.
During his career as an officer in Kolkata police, Chattopadhyay had investigated the 1993 Bowbazar blast and the American Centre attack of in 2002. A 2013 awardee of the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service, he accompanied a team of Hindustan Times to the station to assess the loopholes.
The lapses observed by this reporter at Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro station are more or less the same at nearly half of the 24 stations — starting from Noapara at the northern fringes of Kolkata to Kavi Subhas at the southern fringes of the city.
At Kalighat metro station this reporter found that he guards are not interested in checking the passengers’ luggage.
The arrest of six hardcore members of Bangladesh based terror outfit Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) from the city last month, has sounded alarm bell in the security circle and highlighted the penetration of Jihadi outfits in the state of West Bengal. Bengal which shares its border with Bangladesh has long been used by the Jihadi element as a haven.
Reported by: Monishankar Choudhury