Agra, May 16 : In a serious jolt to high security arrangements at the Taj Mahal, at least 15 closed circuit TV cameras, which were installed at vantage points to monitor activities of all visitors, have been found missing .
Taj Mahal's security is mainly under the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) but claims ignorance about CCTV cameras' whereabouts.
The CISF was asked to coordinate the security arrangements at the Taj Mahal following terrorist threat to blow up the monument last year.
Taj Mahal is under a three-pronged security set-up. The local administration and the Uttar Pradesh Police protect the outer area known as the green sphere, the personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) man the yellow bracket, which is the intermediate tier and the third and the important red tier is managed by the Archeological Survey of India and the CISF personnel.
The security agencies had placed Close Circuit Camera television (CCTV) inside Taj Mahal to keep a vigil over tourist activities and also on mischief-makers.
No sooner than the theft of these CCTV cameras became known panic gripped the CISF officials and the maintenance department of Taj Mahal.
"Taj Mahal's security is a very sensitive matter. Due to the importance of Taj, the CISF is posted here. The government has provided CCTV cameras for the protection. But we came to know that 15 cameras have been stolen and only 19 cameras are in place," said Rajiv Tiwari, President of the Agra Tourism Federation
"If the CISF can't take care of the CCTV cameras, how will they take care of the Taj. We are taking this very seriously. We have the right to know as to how and why these cameras have disappeared," he added.
People feel that the CISF has not been taking adequate precautions.
"It looks CISF is doing nothing for security. Only thing they do is to check people at the entry gate of Taj Mahal. Vehicles are parked in the non-parking area inside the premises of Taj Mahal. The officials come in their cars till the gate of Taj Mahal. The passes to enter in the 500 meters range of Taj Mahal was provided to the residents of the local area. But the officials also have the same passes and they park their cars in the premises of Taj," said K. D. Sharma, a Supreme Court advocate, responsible for briefs relating to the Taj Mahal.
"With security like this a person can bring in explosives inside the premises by dodging the police and CISF. The only thing that the police and the CISF do is to harass and exploit the shopkeepers near Taj," he added.
A high level inquiry is being conducted.
"Nobody has informed me that 15 CCTV cameras got stolen from Taj Mahal. " said an official from Archeological Survey of India .
CISF is currently providing security to the critical infrastructures as well as all major centres of economic growth of India. It is also responsibile to protect the national assets and highly vital and sensitive installations which are exceedingly critical from national security point of view.
Built under Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the fond memory of his belovd wife Mumtaz, the Taj Mahal famously known as a monument of love and is located in Agra.
It is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles.
In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Islamic art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."
While the white domed marble and tile mausoleum Taj Mahal is an integrated symmetric complex of structures that was completed around 1648. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered as the principal designer of Taj Mahal. Brajesh Singh