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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Housing societies, cops wake up to the danger at the gates

Day after Mumbai Mirror exposé, private security agencies in the dock

Angry societies summon agencies, one security in-charge gets the sack

day after Mumbai Mirror exposed how easy it was to become a security guard in the city without having to undergo any background checks or interviews, the three concerned housing societies have asked their respective security agencies for detailed reports on the verification about their guards emergency meetings and one security agency has sacked the officer in charge of one of the buildings. 

    The police, too, undertook a random inspection of the security guards manning housing societies in the Western suburbs. 
    Satya housing society in Bandra, where 
this reporter spent a day as a guard, has called senior officials of its security agency KGF for a meeting on Sunday to discuss whether the building will continue to use its services. 
    "We have called the security people for a meeting," said a resident. "They have to give us an explanation for how this happened. If we are not satisfied with their response, we will hire a competent agency." 
    KGF, on its part, said the entire episode was a lesson for the agency and assured that they will take every possible step to ensure that such an incident is not repeated. 
    "We have learnt our lesson," said Virender Tiwari, a senior official. "We will ensure that such a thing does not happen 
again." When this reporter went to Samarth Angan at Lokhandwala to speak to the society members and residents, he was chased away by angry security guards who recognised him. 
    However, Alphanet, which provides security for the society, has initiated action against the chief security officer in charge of the building, Anil Yadav. Agency officials said that Yadav has been asked not to report to work till he can provide a satisfactory report on how the lapse happened. "It is as good as losing my job," Yadav told this reporter. 
    The third society, Gym View in Khar, has asked the agency to appear before a full society meeting on Sunday with agreement and all the other relevant records and verification records of the security guards manning the building. 
    Anandini Thakoor, secretary, Khar Resident's Association, said it was shocking that agencies don't even perform a basic background check before 
hiring guards. "They don't run a background check or anything but hire them at lower cost," he said. "Today, the police came to our society and asked us to keep a check on the security guards and not to allow anyone without proper police verification." 
    When asked about what steps the police would take to ensure that security agencies do not hire guards without proper checks, Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Vishwas Nangre Patil, said, "We are initiating a drive to check whether security agencies are following the guidelines laid down under the Maharashtra Private Security Guards (Regulation Of Employment And Welfare) Act, and will take action accordingly." 
    Mumbai has over 250 security agencies, which provide security guards to the city's many housing societies and commercial establishments. Overall, India has an estimated 5.5 million security guards, and about one million new guards are hired every year, according to the Central Association of Private Security Industry.

Mirror reporter Anil Raina at Bandra's Satya building where he worked as a security guard. (Left) Our sting op that showed how easy it is to become a security guard in the city


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