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Posted at: May 16, 2019, 6:31 AM; last updated: May 16, 2019, 6:31 AM (IST)

The right kind of chowkidars

The right kind of chowkidars

V Viswanathan

Prime MINISTER Modi’s ‘Main bhi chowkidar’ campaign to counter Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ jibe has put all those who take care of security of installations in the spotlight. One is not sure if the offensive or the counteroffensive will actually help the parties electorally or not. But the fact remains that people in charge of security have an unenviable task at hand. 

Watchmen and security guards sometimes end up grilling their own CEOs at the gate, mistaking them for strangers, only to learn of their blunder soon. That Manohar Parrikar, late chief minister of Goa, was inadvertently stopped by a chowkidar at a hotel in Goa when he was CM is a popular story.  

Those guarding the gates of private colleges, where the management writ runs large, enjoy vast powers, especially when it comes to students. One of their main tasks is to ask students to display their ID cards while they enter and leave the premises. In a private engineering college, I once observed that a group of mischievous students tried to avoid showing the ID cards and dragged the security men into a friendly banter, but the guards did not lower their guard. Finally, the students laughed, pulled out their ID cards like rabbits from a magician’s hat and moved away jauntily. 

I have heard of a monumental goof-up story in a high security setup. I am not certain if it is apocryphal. The establishment had invited a senior official from another organisation as a delegate for an important meeting. The delegate drove in his car. As part of routine check, his car was stopped at the main gate. A gun-toting guard asked him to open the boot and after clearance, he was allowed to proceed. But there was another gate the delegate had to cross. 

At the next gate, the executive was stopped again and was asked to open the car’s boot. He did so. This time, the guard who inspected the boot became furious and started grilling him, suspecting him to be a terrorist! Did he notice anything in the boot? Yes. A machine gun! The visiting executive was clueless how the weapon shot itself into the boot. 

Within minutes, the guard got a call from his colleague stationed at the main gate. ‘My machine gun is missing. Looks like I placed it in a car’s boot while checking and forgot to take it out. Did you by any chance spot it?’ ‘Oh my God!’ the other guard rushed to the delegate and apologised for his co-chowkidar’s lapse and his own indiscretion.    

Incompetent security personnel can easily derail a good system while vigilant and efficient chowkidars are a true asset, indeed.

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