Even as the Mumbai Police have drawn up elaborate security arrangements to prevent a repeat of 26/11 terrorist strikes in the city,repeated incidents on the Mantralaya premises one of the potential targets in the city indicate glaring lapses in the security drill and call for a major re-think.
According to the police,a dangerous situation arises when politicians enter the premises accompanied by a large posse of party workers or supporters who bypass all security and identification checks. While other visitors are required to queue up and produce photo-identity proof before being frisked and screened by metal detectors,the people who accompany politicians resist any such checks and enter the premises without possessing valid identification proof.
While MLAs and MPs are allowed to bring in a maximum of two guests each,they are often escorted by 15 to 20 persons who cannot be identified. Any attempt to prevent their entry ends up in a standoff between the supporters,their leaders and the police,those in charge of security at Mantralaya said.
A large security threat is created when these political workers or supporters enter with their leaders. Sometimes people who may not even be with the leaders get in,and any of them could be a security threat, said a police officer at Mantralaya.
If we try to assert ourselves,we are threatened with transfers. This fear of transfers always hangs over our head, the officer said.
On one occasion,a constable couldnt recognise an MLA who was sitting in a car with tinted glass,so he tried to look into the car. The MLA immediately lost his temper and complained of misbehaviour, a police constable said.
When asked about the entry of unauthorised persons along with politicians,Assistant Commissioner of Police (Mantralaya) J Johri,however,chose to play down the issue. MLAs or MPs are not allowed more than two visitors each. Sometimes they do bring in more people but we give them passes and record their presence, said Johri.
Admitting that party workers had,on occasions,entered the premises without necessary passes,Joshi said,Whenever this happens,we keep a track of them.
On repeated occasions,suicide attempts on the premises have also exposed the security lapses. On January 14,Vijay Kamble,an unemployed youth from Nanded,had attempted suicide inside the Mantralaya building by drinking pesticide. Earlier,on July 16 last year,Dinesh Suryavanshi had given the security staff a scare when he threatened to set himself on fire right outside a conference room where the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was sitting.