Security ‘adequate’ in Sarojini market, but CCTV cameras are down

July 27th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sahil Makkar
New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) It is a case of once bitten twice shy for the shopaholic’s favourite Sarojini Nagar market in south Delhi, which was hit by a major terror strike three years ago, as it has stepped up security measures following the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Delhi Police, which have sounded a high alert in the capital, were building four watch towers in the market premises to keep round-the-clock vigil on any suspicious people or activities.

The presence of police personnel was increased and warnings and instructions were being sounded over microphones Sunday. Senior police officials were also making rounds of the market area, which houses more than 500 shops.

But the seven market associations were not happy. The 27 closed circuit television (CCTV)cameras, installed last year in the wake of terror threats, are not functional any more.

“For the past two months CCTVs are not operational, allegedly due to the non-payment of charges. There is some dispute going on between the police and Scores, a Gurgaon-based company that has installed cameras, in the Delhi High Court,” Pawan Arora, president of one of the market associations, told IANS Sunday.

“From the security point of view, it is very important to have these cameras working. Police officials have assured us that matter would be resolved soon,” Arora added.

A police official deployed in the market admitted to IANS that the CCTVs are not operational as the private firm had been blacklisted by the police headquarters.

“Presence of these cameras has always proved handy for us. It definitely gives you a certain edge in maintaining security,” he said.

Om Das Sharma, president of another association, said: “Police officials have been very cooperative but we have our own team of 60 civil volunteers in the market. They keep a strict vigil over pickpockets and other suspicious people in the market.

“We formed this team soon after the October 2005 pre-Diwali blasts when at least 40 people were killed.”

Subhash Gupta, one of the civil volunteers, said: “It is not only the job of the police to protect market areas. We also have to be vigilant. The parking in the market areas has been restricted to traders who operate here.”

Shoppers too braved the terror threat and their footfalls were same as usual. They could be seen shopping, eating and chatting in the market without any fear or panic.

“I am pleased to see the increased number of policemen in and around the market,” said Michelle Bolourchi, a US citizen studying in the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Raj Gupta, who works in Delhi University and has been visiting the market for the past 20 years, said: “After the October 2005 blasts in the market, enough security measures have been taken by the police and market associations.

“We believe that the market is safe and there is nothing to panic about,” Gupta said.

India’s IT hub of Bangalore was hit by a series of eight blasts Friday, killing a woman. The next day, Gujarat’s main city of Ahmedabad was rocked by 20 blasts that killed at least 45 people.

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