Training Security Guards May Aid Fight Against Terror

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New Delhi, Jul 29 (UNI) As Indians reel from bombings, a leading distance university and a security company got together today and announced a move to train private security guards, a move intended to bolster the fight against terrorism.

Indira Gandhi National Open University and newly-formed Security Skills Council of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding this afternoon to ''design, develop and deliver'' skills and diplomas and certificates for guards and supervisors.

The MoU was announced by IGNOU Vice Chancellor V N Rajasekharan Pillai and SSCI Chairman and Managing Director R K Sinha.

''Terrorism cannot be checked only by law enforcement agencies,'' Sinha told journalists invited to the signing of the MoU. He and other speakers pointed to the key role private security men or even citizens play in securing a nation by detecting suspicious activity or individuals early on.

The step to train and qualify security guards and supervisors is intended to equip them with tools essential to their work and bridge a yawning gap between law and the ground reality.

Law requires personnel to be trained in everything from ''correct wearing of uniform'' to handling weapons and spotting improvised explosive devices, and includes fitness, firefighting, crowd control, checking identities, and even giving first aid.

Prof Pillai also released a student prospectus-cum-programme guide for short term, non-credit vocational programmes for security guards and security supervisors.

The ceremony was attended by Major General S G Chatterji who took over as Director General Resettlement nine months ago. He underlined dramatically the importance of security by pointing out that creating wealth was not enough-- unless it was secured.

He cited how India once possessed Peacock throne or other treasures-- but no longer.

India's private security industry currently employs some five million individuals, many of whom are not educated or qualified or even trained. The agencies came up as a result of demand from businesses and homes. Many companies themselves are accused of offering poor wages and work conditions.

Authorities readying to regulate the industry three years ago noted how these agencies helped meet businesses' security needs, but caused ''a growing concern'' by the manner of their functioning.

''Many of these agencies conduct their operations without due care for verifying the antecendents of the personnel employed as private security guards and supervisors.

''Certain private multinational security agencies have also established their branches in the country, which unless properly regulated may have serious security implications.'' In some instances personnel employed by these agencies have been involved in criminal activities.

In 2005, the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act was enacted followed by the Private Security Agencies Central Model Rules a year later.

The law requires private security agencies to get a licence within a year or fold-- but most States have yet to enforce it, industry sources say.

As D K Kotia, an officer of the Home Ministry, put it in a speech delivered in absentia, ''When fully implemented, this Act will help bring in desired professionalism in security industry in a big way.'' The minimum 160 hours of training to be imparted at Council centres in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Uttarakhand and elsewhere is expected to produce 100,000 employable security personnel by 2010.

The Council is a body consisting of professionals who have been in the business for over three decades.

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