People do what police can't Salt Lake safer in resident hands - DO-IT-YOURSELF MODEL AS COPS GO MISSING

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By SUCHETA CHAKRABORTY
  • Published 19.02.08
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On Sunday morning, the district police urged the residents of Salt Lake to either form voluntary night patrol teams or hire private security guards to safeguard their homes. Twelve hours after that, Metro visited three blocks in three sectors of Salt Lake where the people have long moved a no-confidence motion against the cops and taken up the responsibility of protecting their lanes. This is what we saw and heard on the other side of midnight...

Where: CK Block, Sector II.

When: 12.20am.

What: Two nightguards patrol the lane housing plot numbers 144 to 178.

Guards from Trident Security Services hired by residents of the lane have kept vigil for three years now. “After a series of thefts and robberies, we took it upon ourselves to protect our homes,” recounted S.C. Sarkar, a retired engineer.

Residents of the lane contribute Rs 70 per month per family to the safekeeping kitty; the security agency is paid Rs 3,400 every month.

The night guards, who patrol from 10pm to 6am, are equipped with lathi, whistle, a mini torch and a mobile phone.

Impact: There have only been a few petty thefts during the day in this lane of CK Block in the past three years. No night robbery reported.

Where: AA Block, Sector I.

When: 12.50am.

What: The deserted road near Kestopur canal, with the streetlights shrouded in greens and not a cop in sight, looked like a soft target for robbers. Till one spotted five night guards in a huddle with Anup Roy, in charge of the block’s night patrol committee.

“We started night patrolling eight years ago. Bordering Kestopur canal, AA Block is particularly vulnerable,” said Roy. Guards from Unique Security Services, carrying a lathi, a whistle, a torch and a cellphone, roam the lanes from 10pm to 4am.

Residents of the block pay Rs 50 each to foot the security agency’s monthly bill of Rs 6,500.

Impact: Petty thefts, few; night robberies, none.

Where: HA Block, Sector III.

When: 1.25am.

What: The sounds of a whistle and a lathi slamming against a lamp post can be heard loud and clear. Two members of the night patrol are at work, allowing the residents to sleep easy.

The HA Block Residents’ Forum did not take a chance and started early — 20 years ago, in fact. At present, four employees of a local Chinese restaurant are the night guards, from 11pm to 5am. They are armed with lathis, a whistle and a torch. They are paid Rs 35 per night (plus Rs 400 as Puja bonus). The plot-owners contribute Rs 30 per month and flat-owners Rs 20.

Impact: The crime graph in most blocks of Salt Lake is rising, but HA has been a safe haven.

(Is people policing the model for a safe Salt Lake? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com)