Of Journalism

December 14, 2008

Its all About Security

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 1:03 pm

People carrying luggage enter the railway station without being checked: Unreliable security at Cantt Station inviting trouble

* Text by Fawad Ali Shah and Photos by Liaquatullah Khan


KARACHI: As Eid is just around the corner the number of people travelling within the country is increasing and the city’s busiest railway station, Cantonment Railway Station (CRS), is packed with passengers and due to the lack of proper security measures it is tempting for criminals to try their hand at something unpleasant.

Railways are considered to be the most reliable and one of the safest channels for long journeys, throughout the country. Especially when traveling to or out of Karachi. City and Cantonment stations are the two main railway stations of Karachi. Among the two the latter is the busiest one as it is located almost at the center of the city. Daily 22 passenger trains come and go out of the station.

A tradition in the city is that on the eve of Eid, people whose families reside outside Karachi, especially in other provinces of the country, start going to their respective villages. Usually their first choice is to travel by trains. They consider railway journeys more comfortable as compared to buses.

Though at other parts of the city the administration has tightened the security measures, Cantonment Railway Station has totally been ignored.

The lack of security measures can be witnessed at the entrance of Cantonment Railway Station premises, as no one checks the enormous number of vehicles including cars, pick-ups and motorcycles which are there to pick and drop passengers. At the main entrance gate majority of the officials are private contractors and they argue that their responsibility is only to issue parking tickets, the prices of which are Rs 5 for two-wheelers and Rs 10 for four-wheelers. They claim that the security is the headache of the railway administration.

No arrangements have been made to check the luggage of the passengers at the entrance to the railway platform. The main opening to the platform has been divided in to two sections, entrance and exit, yet due to the inefficiency of the security personnel nobody follows the rules. At the entrance gate scanners have been installed. It has been observed that none of the security personnel stand beside these machines to oversee the process. Usually most of the passengers use the exit gate for entrance to the platform.

Lack of security at the officially set-up entrances put aside, as the boundary walls of the station have collapsed, most people opt to use the collapsed part of these walls as entrances. One such hole is near the tomb of Baba Peer Bukhari, located at the right of the main entrance.

Ali Ahmad, a student of Karachi University, sitting in the waiting lounge of the station, when asked about the security measures at the station told Daily Times that the security measures are equal to none.

“Look at the main entrance, though scanners have been installed no one from the police or railway is standing with them,” the student said, adding: “Scanners can only detect metals, they can not arrest those who are carrying explosives.”

The student lamented that it was easy for smugglers to paddle any thing they want to Karachi or out of Karachi.

I do not know why the administration is ignoring the security of the station, the young boy lamented about the behavior of the authorities.

The student was disappointed with the poor security arrangements. He feared that an untoward incident could happen any time. “After all terrorists can not find any target easier than this,” he went on to say.

Faqir Khan, 70, revving his machines to leave for Peshawar through the Pakistan Express, accepted that the security situation was bad. “However if the security is tightened it will mean more trouble for passengers,” he added.

He opined that when terrorists want to do something wrong, they can do it in the presence of tight security. Ghulam Pota, a resident of Rawalpindi, said that the condition of the station disappointed him.

“In order to ensure security they should only allow passengers to come to the platform,” he said, adding: “The passengers should be allowed to the platform only after complete scrutiny.” The scribe contacted Cantonment Police Station SHO Baqir Mohayyuddin Gillani several times, but he refused to offer his comments.

The Station Manager also did not give any comments. However the officers under the SSP, railways, said that the administration had taken foolproof security measures.

“Vehicles are checked with search mirrors,” they said. They argued that the vehicles entered the premises of the station by one gate only, “where they are searched.”

The police officials informed that there were two openings to the platforms, “One is for business class ticket holders and the other for those having economy class tickets, the latter one is the main entrance to the platform.”

“Both of the entrances have been divided in to two segments, entrance and exit,” they added.

“At each entrance scanners have been installed,” they said, adding that there were almost 60 policemen on duty inside the station, with scanners in their hands. The security officials said that a thorough checking was not possible yet but the presence of police with scanners was enough to deter the criminals.


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