Post, the serial blasts on an arterial road in Pune on August 1, 2012, a good 1,285 CCTVs were promised to be put up at 444 strategic locations in 42 weeks; hardly any have been installed

Voices Saturday, July 12, 2014 - 05:30
By Vinita Deshmukh On July 11th, Pune faced terror, for the third time. The earlier ones were the Germany Bakery blast that killed 17, and injured 70, mostly youngsters on February 13th, 2010 and; the Jangli Maharaj Road blast that injured one in the six serial blasts that took place in 40 minutes, on August 1st 2012. Post the 2012 blasts, Home Minister R R Patil, who proved to be a disaster during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and was shunted out only to return a year later in the same ministerial berth, declared that Pune is indeed in the terror radar and security is of prime importance to the city. The first step, he ordered, was to install CCtvs so that culprits are captured in the video to facilitate quick investigations. An impressive 1,285 CCtvs at a cost of Rs.300 crore were to be put up in 444 strategic locations in Pune and its industrial neighbourhood, Pimpri-Chinchwad. All this was to be executed, in 42 weeks flat said the government. Now, many, many weeks over the deadline, Pune witnessed a minor blast on July 11, which injured five, at the most sought after temple Dagdusheth Ganpati, which is adjacent to a building which houses two premier police stations of Pune. It can easily be said that, the point where the blast took place in the afternoon of July 11, is geographically and emotionally the heart of the city. What is worse is that, the motorbike which contained the blast material was parked for a good four hours before the blast, in the very premises of these police stations, where visitors parking is strictly not allowed. Shockingly, the Quick Response Team (QRT) of Maharashtra Police guards the temple, but they were also caught unaware. Besides, there have been two versions on the existence of the CCTV there, despite the fact that, an hour before the German Bakery blast in 2010, attempts were made to plant a bomb in the premises of the Dagdusheth Ganpati temple, but was inadvertently foiled by a flower seller. BJP leader Girish Bapat told Saam TV on Friday night that when he visited the spot after the incident, there was no CCTV, ``they have installed on the day after the blast,’’ that is July 12 he claims. Some news reports though mention that the hazy face of the potential culprit was caught in the camera. Whatever, the fact is the casual approach of an area which is under the terrorist-radar is pathetic. Added to this apathy is the foot-in-the-mouth statement of Home Minister R R Patil who, after visiting the blast site on July 11, told the media that, Rs.220 crore out of the Rs.300 crore were sanctioned but the money is in a technical tangle. Which means,, the contractor played truant after winning the bid and there is a tussle going on about the financials. Bapat also mentioned that no one in the police force is bothered about the seriousness of installing CCTVs and it has just left it to the whims and fancies of the contractors. Some of the CCTVs which are installed have been sponsored by companies and social organizations, says Bapat. Pune’s 10 day historic Ganesh Festival that witnesses the sprouting of over 3,000 Ganesh pandals and attracts several lakhs of people from all over Maharashtra, is just six weeks away. The festival implies large congregations on public roads in various parts of the city. Now, once again, R R Patil has the audacity to assure the city of CCTV installations. Well, people have lost faith but then one needs to remind him that with CCTV, the terror tale does not end. What about the promise of adequate police force, equipment, vehicles? Oh, that’s going on since 26/11 with sporadic gestures of generosity.  This dismal picture to tackle terror surely makes Maharashtra look like the worst governed state.
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