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11 Years Since Mumbai’s 2006 Bomb Blasts: How Safe Are the Locals?

The Quint conducted a spot-check at three of Mumbai’s biggest stations to check if the security system is in place.

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It’s been 11 years since the 2006 Mumbai blasts and nine years after the 26/11 terrorist attack. And yet, the ministry-approved Integrated Security System (ISS) – which proposes an airport-like overhaul of current security systems – is yet to be implemented in Mumbai to increase the safety of the 75 lakh passengers who use the Mumbai local trains daily.

The Quint conducted a spot-check of safety precautions at Mumbai’s three major stations: Churchgate, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Dadar, 11 years after a series of blasts ripped through local trains within a span of 11 minutes in 2006, killing 189 people and injuring 816.

Speaking to Indian Express just a day ago, DB Kasar, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner of RPF, Western Railway in 2006, said: “One would never find any entry or exit point at any major railway station unguarded. Lessons learnt from the 2006 massacre prepared us for challenges ahead.”

The Quint found out otherwise.

Door-frame metal detectors either didn’t work or it didn’t matter to anyone if you entered a station through a working one. No Railway police were seen carrying out random security checks. No signs of hand-held detectors and under-vehicle scanners were found on any of the three stations. Baggage checks at CST were out of service since six months; in Dadar, where one did work, the security sitting next to it was only happy to let people walk through without getting their bags scanned. CCTV cameras are more on Central Railway stations than Western, where most of them are still on rent. An ambulance was found at each station, including a Rapid Action Force (RAF), parked at CST. 
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Food for Thought

Nearly 6,000 people walk through one single door-frame metal detector at CST every minute. More than 75 lakh people throng the stations and trains everyday. Then, there are the homeless, station vendors, train vendors and random pedestrians (since many platforms open to main roads and marketplaces).

How do you monitor a crowd like that?

The Quint conducted a spot-check at three of Mumbai’s biggest stations to check if the security system is in place.
Over 75 lakh people travel in “super dense crush load” daily aboard the Mumbai locals. 
(Photo: Reuters) 
It’s just not possible, given the number of people. We can’t check everyone; there’ll be a riot if we hold up people during the rush hour. So we rely on random checks and intuition
A Railway Police Force Officer next to the baggage check at CST

Though the implementation of the ISS is far from satisfactory, as it should be, perhaps it is time we negotiate the fact that the only way the sheer number of people can be protected can is through Intelligence, analysis and research-based primarily, seconded by CCTVs, door-frame metal detectors, hand-held detectors, under-vehicle scanners and the like.

There is a need to shift the way we think about security, while strengthening our intelligence community to slowly eliminate the need for various checkpoints at the station – a model followed by several global vulnerable stations such as the Grand Central in New York and the London Underground Network.

Ironically, Western Railway was briefed by Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi in May 2006 warning them about a possible terror attack in a local train compartment with an IED, just two months before the mishap. The authorities, however, decided to not take it seriously.

Video Producer: Divya Talwar
Editor: Kammaljiith Kainth
Camera: Yashpal Singh

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Security   Indian Railways   Mumbai Locals 

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