The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trust lost, trade takes guard
- Posta votes out police, eyes private security

A no-confidence motion has been moved against the cops ' not on the floor of any House, but on the streets of Burrabazar.

Police having failed them yet again, denizens of the city's trade hub are increasingly turning to private security agencies for basic safety.

'Police inaction is an area of major concern for us. Crime is on the rise but there has hardly been any police action. To deal with the growing threat, we have decided to engage private security guards. This was discussed in our last meeting and will be finalised in the next one,' said Anil K. Jhawar, secretary, Bengal Canvas and Tarpaulin Merchants Association.

Satyanarayan Shreegopal, a shop on Jamuna Lal Bajaj Street affiliated to the association, was looted of Rs 1.5 lakh on December 31 by six armed youths. No arrests have been carried out yet, alleged the association, justifying its cry for private security cover.

'We are even planning to have plainclothes security personnel doing the rounds of the entire area where our members have their business base. They will keep an eye on all 'outsiders' frequenting the area. With police not doing their job, we have to protect ourselves by paying for our safety,' added Jhawar.

The latest to fall victim to the growing goon culture in the trade belt is Haribansh Rai, assaulted in full public view at Posta by three armed men on February 4.

With police not managing to round up the suspects till Wednesday, the Onkar Chitpur Vyabsayik Samity, of which Rai is vice-president, is ready to take the private security route. 'The way things are proceeding, we are afraid that this is the only way out. We have to protect ourselves and our business,' said Samity president P.R. Goenka.

Wednesday evening saw Burrabazar businessmen, along with members of the DYFI, marching through Cotton Street, Rabindra Sarani and MG Road in a show of protest.

Around 400 businessmen took part in the procession, demanding immediate arrest of the criminals stalking the area (Picture on Page 24).

Samity president Goenka reiterated that 'if police fail to take action, we will declare a strike and hold a roadblock'.

Many traders in Burrabazar already have personal security guards at their places of work, but the latest spurt in crime could see a far greater role for private security guards.

'The demand for security guards in Burrabazar is rising. Besides the guards, many traders use our vans to transfer cash from their gaddi to the bank,' said Captain P.K. Mitra of Darks Security.

More will soon be demanded of Darks and the rest in the security business. 'We want all traders to come forward and contribute, so that we can engage private security personnel to safeguard their business and themselves,' said B.K. Dehlia, secretary, Chamber of Textile Trade and Industry.

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