By Kumar Anand and Neha Sethi
Ruchi Sreedhar, a student of Deen Dayal Upadhyay College has been told to cut down her frequent visits to malls by her mother. After the bomb blasts in Delhi, Vandana, Ruchi’s mother, doesn’t think malls are a safe place. “I am not satisfied by the checking in malls. The malls are as unsafe as open markets.”
Many of the malls don’t have even basic metal detectors, leave aside thorough checking. Megha Chaudhary, a PR professional says, “I recently went to Lifestyle and there was no checking there. Not even a frisk through the bags.”
Rajkumar Singh, Assistant Store Manager, Van Heusen, The Great India Place mall says there are many entry points in the mall, thus making it difficult for security checks. “There are special entry points for staff, and no one checks at those entry points. Also many security people don’t check properly so it is very easy to take anything inside the mall,” he adds.
The police have sent out advisories to malls and multiplexes, to take firm precautions against any possibility of terror strikes. But the lax attitude of authorities makes them vulnerable.
Mithilesh Jha, a security guard at Westgate Mall, Rajouri Garden, has a different opinion and says that the security is very tight. “We observe each and every person entering the mall. We check their belts, shoes, pockets, wallets and mobiles.”
The authorities make tall claims, but our photographer Jaishree had a different experience. “When I could take a knife in my bag and enter the Pacific Mall in East Delhi without being detected, then how can I trust the authorities when they say they are strict?,” she asks.
The security in markets and other places increases only after a blast has taken place. An increase in security in the Lajpat Nagar market was observed only after the blasts took place in the market last year.
Sowmya Padmanabhan, a resident of Karol Bagh says, “After the blasts in Lajpat Nagar last year, the security in Karol Bagh market was increased only for eyewash. But after the blasts here this year, the security has become really tight.”
Do we really have to wait for a bomb to go off in a mall before the security position is strengthened?