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Metro terror shield with seal on extra exits

Calcutta, July 9: Two days after the serial blasts in London, Metro Railway and police officials met today to work out a plan to beef up underground security.

'There are several exit and entry points (at stations) which can be done away with temporarily for the sake of passengers' security. It is difficult to man all the points,' said S.Z. Samuel, the chief security commissioner, Railway Protection Force (RPF), Eastern Railway, with additional charge of Metro Railway.

Samuel attended today's meeting along with Sudhir Kumar Mishra, the joint commissioner of police (operations), and Metro officials.

On July 7, after the London attacks, Metro authorities had planned elaborate security measures. However, there was no sign of heightened security at most stations yesterday.

A special team will visit all the stations and conduct a survey tomorrow. They will submit a report identifying the entry and exit points that need to be closed down.

'At Maidan, there are six such points but we have found out that four are enough for passengers to go in and come out. So, two will be shut down soon,' Samuel said.

At Dum Dum, too, some entry and exit points have been identified as unnecessary.

Yesterday, a joint team of the RPF, Calcutta police and Metro had conducted a survey in all underground stations. 'There are certain lapses in the security system and we carried out a review on how to overcome them. We have to fine-tune Metro's security system,' Samuel said.

The public address systems at stations and inside trains would be used to spread awareness among passengers. Posters would be pasted on station walls, requesting passengers to inform security personnel if they spot any unclaimed objects.

The RPF and city police will soon hold special briefings to upgrade their security personnel. 'They will be told what exactly is expected of them,' a Metro official said.

The checking assistants, mostly employed on contract, will also receive special training.

Another glaring loophole is the lack of proper connectivity between Metro's security personnel. 'They have to be provided with walkie- talkies and wireless sets,' said an officer.

Along with the increased manpower, sniffer dogs will be put on the job. Eastern Railway police have two dog squads, one in Howrah and another in Asansol. The Howrah division has six sniffer dogs, four of which would be posted at Dum Dum and, probably, Belgachhia Metro stations.

The city police will prepare its own report on Metro security. 'On Monday, we will draw up a list of dos and don'ts on the basis of the report,' said Anuj Sharma, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).

'We have already taken a number of measures, right from deploying special branch officials at the platforms to manning the metal detector door-frames,' he added.

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