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Sloppy security

 | November 29, 2013

Indians seem hardly worried about safety and security.


As the Tarun Tejpal affair was becoming a media sensation, I landed in Panaji, the quaint capital city of Goa, once and for long under the Portuguese.

In was in Panaji that Tejpal — the founder-editor of Tehelka, renowned for its damning exposes – had reportedly molested a young woman journalist and colleague in the lift of a luxury hotel.

The Goa police is all set to question Tejpal in Panaji during the coming weekend, and the editor appears to have been caught in a web of lies that he himself began spinning – first admitting to the crime and then turning around to say that the woman had consented to have sex with him. Since the alleged assault took place in the lift that had no closed circuit camera, the truth may never emerge.

As appalling as this may seem, what appears even more ludicrous is that security looks abysmally lax in Goa. A five-star hotel in Panaji, run by a renowned group, where I was staying had no cameras in their lifts. And this was several days after the unsavoury Tejpal incident. When I questioned one of the managers at the hotel, he told me that they were planning to install cameras next month.

I cannot understand why big hotels, to begin with, have no cameras in their lifts, given the kind of terror times we are living in. All that it takes is a couple of hours to fix a closed circuit camera.

Obviously, safety is still not a pressing concern in India.

During the recent Mumbai Film Festival – the city where a dastardly terrorist attack took place some years ago – I found that one of the main theatres had men and scanners in place to check visitors. However, the same theatre had another entrance on one of its sides through which one could walk in and out without being scanned! In fact, I used this gate regularly without being scanned or frisked.

A similar picture is seen at one of the main festival venues in Panaji, where the International Film Festival of India is now on. There is again one entrance at the venue (of theatres) where nobody is subject to any form of check.

Indians seem hardly worried about safety and security. When I had been to the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai a few weeks ago, I remembered all that I had read about that terrible night some years ago when gunmen emerged out of the majestic looking building to go on a killing spree.

Only one of the terrorists was caught and later hanged in an Indian jail. The rest were gunned down by the police on the streets.

But the attack would have never happened in the first place, had the hotel staff been a little more alert: I was told that one of the rooms in the hotel, which stands facing the Arabian Sea and the imposing Gateway of India, was literally turned into an ammunition dump.

The terrorists are said to have sailed into the jetty, adjacent to the Gateway, in a small fishing boat. They managed to smuggle their weapons into the hotel, one of the busiest in India, and dump them in the room – right under the very noses of the staff and security guys.

How careless can one get.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at[email protected]


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