ATMs Not Secure Even 2 Weeks after Bangalore Attack
By Rahul V Pisharody | Published: 02nd December 2013 11:21 AM |
Almost two weeks since a 38-year old woman bank officer was brutally attacked by a machete-wielding man in the heart of Bengaluru city, scores of police forces from two states have been on a massive manhunt in Anantapur and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh, and the Karnataka border areas of Gauribidanur, Pavagada and Bagepalli. Similar incidents, allegedly involving the same accused, have also been reported of late from Penukonda in Anantapur district and other areas. A reward of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh each have been announced by the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka police respectively for information on the whereabouts of the accused.
The assault of November 19 had not only shocked Bengaluru but also sent waves of tremors across Andhra Pradesh, mostly raising questions about ATM kiosks and their security.
The city of Hyderabad has witnessed 15 attempted robbery cases at ATM kiosks in the past one year. Eight culprits have been identified and six arrested. Also, in the wake of the shocking incident, Hyderabad city police have cautioned banks and their customers against the vulnerability of ATM kiosks.
City police commissioner Anurag Sharma, however, maintains that there are no guidelines whatsoever regarding the security of ATMs and says that manning the kiosks mainly depends on the need and requirement of the bank managements. Though he points out that night patrol police teams have been monitoring ATM kiosks which are without a security guard, a major cause of concern is the lack of real-time connectivity between closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at ATMs to a centralised hub.
Upon finding that a number of ATMs do not have such security cameras in place, the city police have directed all bank managements to instal the same both inside and outside the kiosks and also to employ security staff to prevent occurrence of Bengaluru-like incidents in our state capital.
The ground reality, however, is far more serious than it appears. While a good number of ATMs do not have guards at all, those that do are also vulnerable. For, the guards they have are found to be weak and old men untrained and unfit to be guards. Moreover, they do not possess any sort of weapon and, worse still, many are found to be part-timers.
Though banks themselves have established a security system at ATMs that allow only one user to enter the kiosk after swiping the card, the system remains dysfunctional in almost all the centres. Sujatha Sridharan, assistant manager of Andhra Bank’s Anand Bagh branch in the city, explains that most banks have dispensed with guards for the reason that they have an electronic entry system which allows only one cardholder to enter the kiosk at a time. Also, deploying security guards is considered a wasteful expenditure by banks.
Sindu Kumar, a private employee who uses an ATM near Greenlands at Begumpet, says, “I think twice when I have to withdraw money after sunset. The security guard would either be not there or sleeping in a corner, while other customers have no patience to wait outside but barge in even before the one inside the kiosk has finished his or her transaction.”
While the Bengaluru police have shut down over 1,000 kiosks and issued a deadline of 45 days for banks to enhance the security with CCTV cameras, guards and burglar alarms, the Hyderabad police have asked the bank managements to follow the directions as soon as possible, failing which strong action will be taken.