Bhubaneswar, Aug. 17: A large number of people living in apartments in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack depend on untrained and unprofessional private security personnel and out-of-order surveillance systems. This has become a reason for worry in the wake of the recent murder of 25-year-old lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha in Mumbai by a security guard posted at her apartment.
Sunanda Samant, 35, a homemaker, who stays in an apartment on Vivekanand Marg here, said she stayed alone at home for a long time every day when her husband left for work and her son for school. “We have been staying here for two years and I take the help of security guards whenever I needed anything from outside. But after I came to know about the murder in Mumbai, I started feeling apprehensive,” she said.
“We preferred multi-storey apartments thinking they were safer than standalone buildings. But it seems it’s not safe even here,” said Pravati Sen, who stays in a building on Nandankanan-Patia Road.
A senior police officer said many apartment-dwellers preferred private security agencies that could be hired at a low cost. This resulted in unlicenced agencies supplying untrained guards. Sources said licenced agencies charged between Rs 15,000 and 18,000 for providing guards in two shifts of eight to 10 hours. The cost of engaging armed guards is more than Rs 18,000.
“Around 80 per cent of the high-rises in the twin cities employ untrained and unprofessional security personnel who are not trustworthy,” said the police officer. There are more than 300 multi-storey buildings in Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation limits and around 140 in Cuttack.
The Centre passed the Private Security Agency (Regulation) Act, 2005, and made it mandatory for all security service providers to get licences from the state home department. The state government framed the Odisha Private Security Agencies Rules, 2009, and gave the superintendent of police and police commissioner the power to verify the antecedents of the owners. But many private agencies are yet to comply with the rules.
Head of the Bhubaneswar branch of G4 security services Sarat Singh said they had been following the state government’s norms. “We hire personnel after proper screening by the local police. We provide proper training to them before putting them on duty,” said Singh.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Bhubaneswar, Nitinjeet Singh said they verified the applications following rules. Though he did not rule out the possibility of many private agencies operating without licences, he said he had not got any complaints in this regard. “If we get any such complaint, we will take action,” he said. However, he refused to comment on whether any action had been taken against unlicenced security agencies.
Cuttack DCP Praveen Kumar admitted that many unlicenced security agencies operated in the area. “We try to educate apartment-dwellers to hire trained security personnel from trusted and registered agencies,” said Kumar.
Though the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police have never targeted these private security agencies, they had tried to educate apartment-dwellers about their safety following a firing incident at Chandrama apartments at Kharavela Nagar in the capital in February 2011. But the police stopped the programme after a while.