THE recent incident -- snatching away of Taka 1.0 million -- in front of a Gulshan Bank from the staff of a business organisation who had taken the money there for depositing with the bank, is symbolic of the insecurity faced by business operators in the country. Several such incidents, though on a lower scale, also took place in the city in the recent times. Besides, it is also murmured in business circles that after a decline in extortion activities following the formation and deployment of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the problem is appearing again and that they find it more convenient to satisfy the gangs than calling for the law enforcers fruitlessly.
So, there are grounds for growing concern and the relevant ministry needs to be proactive in addressing them. However, the latest snatching incident also points at the aspect of businesses taking some initiatives on their own to help themselves. The staff of the business organisation that lost its money in this incident, confessed in interviews that they had been carrying big sums of money in this unguarded manner for quite a while. Thus, they were asking for trouble. Normally, police protection can be asked for and is usually given when requested by businesses for carrying cash safely. If the victim of the snatching incident had availed of this opportunity, then they would not have been aggrieved. Incidents such as these should alert the ones who are affected or are likely to be affected to rethink about their business operations. But this rarely happens which explains why the gangs can succeed so easily. Asking for police protection all the time is cumbersome. But business organisations need to bear with it and make it a habit of often asking for such help.
They can also plan ahead cash carrying routes and journeys and change them frequently so that the snatchers cannot be sure of when and where to strike. Businesses also need to improve their internal surveillance to know whether some from among their own staff are unreliable and in league with the gangs. Surely, such practices involve some hassles. But the gains from the same should be much greater than the ruffles one has to go through in practising them. The police, on their part, must be directed by the relevant ministry to respond unfailingly in all cases to respond positively to request for escort from businesses while carrying cash. There should be also wider and regular publicity by the police to make businesses generally aware that such help is available.
The self-help of businesses against crimes can also include taking of other safety measures. The same may marginally increase their operational costs. But they can expect to be more than compensated from the longer term safety from taking such measures. The measures can include appointing well-trained security men with licensed firearms for duty in the business premises. Businesses can contribute to a common pool for paying for their upkeep at places like shopping malls and the like. They can similarly install video monitors to watch over unwarranted comings and goings and a common alert procedure so that on sounding alarm at any place, the security men can instantly rush to that spot.
The police should be directed to maintain a regular presence in the commercial and industrial areas with enough forces, mobility and striking powers in all respects to be able to deal effectively with any situation. The police presence and the knowledge that the police will unfailingly to go after them, will have deterrent effect on gangsters including extortionists.