KOLKATA: Against the backdrop of Sunday’s Bengaluru blast coupled with the presence of Islamist terrorists in West Bengal which resulted in Burdwan blast during Durga Puja, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has directed the West Bengal government to further beef up the security for the city’s Metro rail services as well as that for the four large railway stations ahead of New Year’s Eve on Wednesday.
As part of the enhanced security cover, more than 100 Railway Protection Special Force(RPSF) personnel have been deployed at each of the 24 Metro Railway stations in the city, besides Kolkata Police and 300 Metro Railway police personnel.
However, the major problem faced by the Metro authorities are damaged and non-functional baggage scanners at all the stations. “It is not possible to manually check the bags and belongings of each passenger and also frisk them, as it will lead to a long queue and might result in a law and order problem since passengers during office hours will protest,” said a police personnel on duty at the Esplanade station.
Following the MHA alert, CCTV footage at all the Metro stations is being scoured by the RPSF personnel and a dog squad has also been deployed, which is being moved from one station to another.
Metro Railway CPRO Rabi Mahapatra said on Tuesday, “All the baggage scanners are in the process of being repaired and at present passengers’ belongings are being scanned with handheld metal detectors.”
“Each year during Durga Puja, Christmas and New Year the number of passengers increase and we have adopted all kinds of security measures and all employees have been asked to remain on high alert,” he said.
Security has been beefed up at Howrah, Sealdah, Kolkata and Shalimar railway stations from where long distance trains run along with suburban trains and RPSF squads are patrolling the platform along with sniffer dogs to detect explosives.
The intelligence agencies took notice after some Islamist terrorist posters were found at Rajarhat adjoining Salt Lake here recently, which warned of terror attacks using female teenagers. “We are all over West Bengal and none can thwart us,” the posters said, calling for all Muslim youths to join the “jihad”.
Some of the posters even challenged the authorities stating that the first attack would be at the crowded Sealdah station using an 18-year-old woman “fidayeen” and the next one using another at the Howrah station.
There were 24 CCTV s at the Sealdah station but most of them were found to be defective. Following the alert about possible terror attacks, they are being repaired and 10 more CCTVs have been installed.