Bangalore: The horrific images of the attack on a woman banker at an ATM of the Corporation Bank has gone viral, creating panic across India. The Bangalore Police have finally woken up to the lurking danger and ordered all banks to post security guards at all ATMs across the city within three days. Failing, the unguarded ATMs will be closed down. The attacker is still at large and the hospitalised victim is out of danger.
But, the ATM robbery is not new to India's IT city. There have been at least half a dozens incidents, in which the entire ATM machine was taken away in trucks by organised gang of robbers. The gang was finally caught a year ago by the police. Interestingly, all those ATMs were unguarded and belonged to public sector banks.
After that the Bangalore Police had ordered the banks to post security guards and install alarms at all ATMs. Shockingly, most banks paid no heed.
Apart from this, there have been several thefts at ATMs across the city. According to some reports, a similar attempt to rob a customer took place at the same ATM of Corporation Bank a few months ago. The incident was not taken up seriously by both the bank and the police. It was treated like a routine crime.
Tuesday's murderous attack has forced the police to act. A shocked Home Minister of Karnataka KJ George held an emergency meeting with the top police officials, formed a committee chaired by Additional Chief Secretary and Home Secretary SK Patnaik to frame strict guidelines for the banks.
Even Karnataka DGP LR Pachau admits that there have been many incidents in the past and the concerned banks failed to secure their ATMs despite several reminders.
There are over 2500 ATMs in Bangalore. Of 2500, only 1900 have security guards. The worst offenders are the PSU banks. Most of the ATMs owned by these banks have no security.
The PSU banks cite strict guidelines which prevent them from spending money security related issues. They claim that managing thousands of security guards round the clock is a tough job and the private agencies hired for the purpose mostly neglect the work.
As per rules, ATM is a property of the banks concerned. If anything goes wrong at their ATMs, the concerned bank can be held responsible. According to a noted lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General of India K N Bhat, the victim can seek damages in crores from the bank. He said, "in the West, such things have happened and the banks were ordered to cough up millions of Dollars to the victims. The same law applies here. The victim can seek a huge damage. In my opinion, we should make an example of this horrible incident. The banks will at least act."
The victim's family says it will decide on future course of action once she fully recovers.