By Tapas Mukherjee
western Indian state of Gujarat has always been a soft target of terrorists in
spite of hard surveillance. The pride of its being a nationally important
'entrepreneurial hub and a money spinner' only adds fuel to terrorists' fire.
situation has prompted important establishments to install sophisticated
security equipments to protect their interest. Commercial banks take a leading
role in the field.
later part of 1980s witnessed the banks adopting shriller emergency alarm
systems replacing outdated models. The marketing agencies for the new ones had
assured that the sound would even reach the nearest police station, and wake up
the valiant policemen from their afternoon siesta.
full proof alarm system found its way to Naroda Industrial Area that emerged as
the hub of some of India's top most industrial houses. The top most national
bank also adopted the system for its Naroda branch. Nothing could be left to
chance. To the problem of communally divided restive local population coupled
with deteriorating crime situation was added the threat from religious
presence of a bustling diamond market at nearby Bapunagar enhanced the
sweetness of the honey attracting more and more stinging bees. Being at the
intersection of National Highways 8 and 59, it lent the criminals attractive
deputy general manager of the top most bank, was aware of the volatile
situation when he was scheduled to inspect the Naroda branch, some 12 kilometers away from the main city,
Ahmedabad, into the state's northeast suburban expanse.
preemptive measure, he decided to arrive a day earlier and visit the bank
incognito to take stock of the situation. He was accosted at the main door by an effusively smiling branch manager
with a bouquet of flowers. A friend told me you were coming on a 'surprise
visit,' so I thought I would welcome you personally, Sir. Well, a case of
blown secrecy, TBG sighed.
morning he plunged himself into work, auditing advances and collaterals,
deposit-advance ratios etc. Branch staffs were coming in and went out of the
room assigned to him on one pretext or the other to steal a look of the file
under inspection. The branch manager received the dreaded information that there
were too many 'red for review' marks.
placid ambiance was suddenly shattered with the emergency SOS alarm going off.
There was a short shrill buzz. TBG jerked up his head from the file.? Somebody must have immobilized the bell
ringer for it stopped before the elongated high and low of an usual siren.
mind was racing over the immediate course of action. He quietly came out of his
room, and looked through the glass door of the branch manager's chamber. There
a man was discernibly making an emphatic point.TBG mingled with the small number of
clients awaiting service, and waited for something to happen. In 1986, there
was no cell phone to whip out from one's pocket and call the police.
could not fathom what was holding up a 'hold up' announcement. The queues in
front of each counter seemed rooted to the spot. May be the firsts in the lines
were there men. The staff had apparently been instructed to act normal.
TBG noticed the stocky man in a frayed jungle fatigue entering the bank. In his
right hand there was apparently some sort of weapon which he covered with a
newspaper in his left hand.
inside, he removed the newspaper to unveil a tea kettle hanging from a wire-net
contraption that also held half a dozen glasses.
to his surveillance of the room, and waited awhile for something to happen. But
nothing at all.
confused, TBG approached the branch manager, "Is there a problem? I just heard
the alarm go off."
problem, Sir. We buzz off the alarm at 2.30 to inform the vendor across the
street to serve tea.?
about the police?, asked TBG in amazement.
initially they used to call up the branch as a follow up measure. Now they have
also got used to it, Sir.
what if terrorists strike precisely at that time?, persisted TBG.
answer that question now. My mind is too preoccupied with this terrorism of
inspection. To me you are the worst terrorist I need to cope up with right now,