The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tremors in the tunnels

The serial blasts in the London Underground have sent tremors through the tunnels of Calcutta's Metro Railway.

Pushing the panic button on Thursday afternoon, the authorities were huddled in a three-hour meeting at Metro Bhavan, the Chowringhee headquarters of the city's underground transit system. They discussed measures to mind the gaps in the security system.

All Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Metro Railway Police (MRP) personnel have already been pushed into duty. They have been asked to look out for any 'unusual or suspicious movement' of any passenger and to start checking bags.

'Although we did not receive any alert from either the central or state governments, we decided to review the security arrangements in the wake of the blasts,' said Phoolpagar GG, chief operations manager (COM), Metro Railway.

Night vigil in tunnels will now be made round-the-clock, while CCTV coverage will also be extended to the tunnels. The number of mobile RPF squads will be increased and they will also patrol the stations and not just be on the trains.

Sixty hand-held metal detectors have been pressed into service and checking assistants asked to be on their toes.

A meeting with the state intelligence department has been lined up on Friday, following which a decision on seeking more security personnel from the state will be taken, said Phoolpagar.

Officials of Metro Railway, the state government and National Security Guard (NSG) will also hold a meeting soon on security issues underground. The NSG conducts periodic security drills on Metro stations, which may be beefed up.

Calcutta Police, on its part, has drawn up measures to improve the security network.

'We have alerted the Metro Railway authorities and the MRP,' said Anuj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police, headquarters.

Sharma said officers from the Special Branch have started surveillance at Metro stations with hand-held metal detectors. Two teams each of the Rapid Action Force, the bomb disposal squad and quick reaction teams have been kept on SOS standby.

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