Mumbai’s CST terminus ill-equipped to tackle terror strike

December 7th, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Dec 7 (IANS) It’s been over 10 days since terrorists went on a rampage shooting people at will at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) here. Though security personnel put up a brave fight, they are not sure whether they can handle a similar situation any better in future.Constables at the railway station say that there are not enough personnel on duty, most of them are overworked and the weapons they use are few and outdated.

Constable Bhappad Gokhale, who is generally on day time duty at the station, said that they desperately needed more personnel to man CST, one of the busiest railway stations in the world.

“Each train arriving at CST carries around 8,000-10,000 passengers every day. To manage that kind of a crowd we are just 100-150 security personnel. Even if we want to, we cannot provide the kind of security that is needed for such a massive population,” Gokhale, who was sitting at his desk near the station entrance, told IANS.

Previously known as Victoria Terminus, the station handles about 500,000 passengers a day.

Apart from being short-staffed, the security personnel deployed are not provided with adequate and modern weapons.

“There are not enough sten guns, not enough revolvers…most of us just roam around with a stick. For a situation like this, how can one think we can battle sophisticatedly armed terrorists?” Gokhale asked.

Ashok Ram, another constable, said they had just one sten gun among 15 personnel.

“We have these tables all around the station where at least three security personnel are deployed. Among five such tables, we get just one sten gun,” Ram told IANS.

“There are orders being placed (for the guns), but there is a delay in the government issuing them,” he added.

According to the security personnel, they are still issued the outdated .303 rifles.

Asked if they had regular training sessions, they said most personnel worked round-the-clock and had no time for anything else.

Said Gokhale: “Our shift lasts for more than 12 hours. But we are on 24 hours duty. That leaves little time for training.”

On Nov 26, two armed terrorists shot indiscriminately at CST, killing at least 58 people and injuring many others.

The terrorists who came by sea struck at 10 places in the city, including two luxury hotels and a Jewish Centre, claiming 172 lives.

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