To ensure that bank dacoities do not give them sleepless nights once again, as they did in the pre-1997 days, the Calcutta Police brass has got in touch with senior bank officers to “coach” them on some basic security do’s and don’ts.
Senior officers admit they are shaken up after two dacoities in four days, netting nearly Rs 16 lakh in cash and jewellery, in two of the most crowded areas of the city. Last Tuesday, a gang of seven robbed a Punjab National Bank branch at Gariahat. Three days later, it was the turn of the Baguiati branch of another nationalised bank (Sagar Gramin Bank) to be cleaned out.
With the gang that cleaned the PNB branch shouting in despair at the meagre booty, “itna kam paisa (so little money),” officials fear a rerun of the pre-1997 period. “We thought we had seen the end of armed raids on banks, as some of the most daring raids on banks ceased after 1997,” one of them said. “But it appears that those in charge of bank security have become complacent,” he added.
The informal chat between senior police and bank officials was held last week. Deputy commissioners in charge of the five city police divisions (north, east, south, central and port) and the detective department met officials of leading nationalised, private and foreign banks.
“We suggested some basic security ideas to the bank officials,” deputy commissioner (south) Kuldip Singh said on Sunday. Officials were perturbed by the banks’ lackadaisical attitude to security. PNB itself has a 161-page internal security manual where steps to be followed in case of a dacoity are stated.
“Unfortunately, none of the measures suggested was followed during the Gariahat hold-up,” a city police official said.
Annual meetings are held between banks and the police at the Reserve Bank of India building. “Again, very unfortunately, we found that all our guidance was in vain,” a police official said.
At last week’s meeting, police stressed the need to instal closed-circuit television sets. Another must-have for every bank is alarms (with switches in “hidden places”) and “some form of security”. Police promised to post plainclothes men at all banks, wherever possible.