Security

8 June 2015, Indian security forces lament lack of hotel security

On 8 June, the Times of India ran a piece titled, “DC boss stay exposes chinks in hotels’ armour.”

In this story, police in Bhubaneswar (Odisha state, 150 miles down the coast from Bangladesh) were on the hunt for Mr. P K Iyer, Vice Chair of the newspaper, the Deccan Chronicle, for alleged bank fraud, and, in the process of the investigation, discovered hotel security vulnerabilities.

It seems that Mr. Iyer had checked into a hotel under a fake name, sidestepping both hotel security and police surveillance. The Times of India said, “Police are supposed to make periodic inspection of hotels to know whether hoteliers collect identity proof of guests before check-in.”

The Hindustan Times reports that the arrest happened at 2:30 am at the Trident Hotel. The Trident in Bhubaneswar is listed as a 5 star hotel on exotic grounds and popular with people touring nearby famed temple complexes. (It should be noted that, aside from this particular episode, which was not an attack, there have been no outward signs/press reports on poor security, threats of violence, or attacks at/on the Trident in Bhubaneswar.)

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Bhubaneswar, Satyabrata Bhoi said that hotel security personnel failed to check Iyer’s identity. DCP Bhoi assumed his post in September 2014.

In light of the Mumbai attacks of 2008 and scores of other terror attacks in India, authorities on 4 November 2013 asked hotels to increase security, in part by insuring the true identity of their patrons. This measure was meant to make it harder for terrorists to use hotels as bases to conduct reconnaissance of urban targets, plan missions, and store weapons. It was also supposed to reduce potential attacks on hotels and diminish other crimes such as drug trafficking.

Bhubaneswar police use the Sarai Act-1867 to coordinate security at hotels. Under this act, reports the Times of India, hotels, guest houses, and all other types of lodging are supposed to register with the police and follow certain security procedures – such as confirming the ID cards of patrons and keeping a list of them for police checks. This way, authorities, a) know where to patrol for hotel checks, and b) can compare their lists of threatening persons to names on hotel registers.

Indian police have also asked hotels to increase their physical security technology – specifically, baggage scanners, metal detectors, and CCTV. This initiative became more pressing, reports Time magazine, after the 2008 Mumbai attack throughout the whole of India. It’s important to note, however, that large, moneymaking hotels can afford these technologies and the staff to operate them, but most small establishments – beyond CCTV – cannot.

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