Wednesday, February 28, 2024
India News

A day after security breach, many changes take effect in Parliament


Security personnel are on high alert at Kartavya Path near Parliament House, as police arrest five persons for a security breach at Lok Sabha, in New Delhi on Thursday.

Security personnel are on high alert at Kartavya Path near Parliament House, as police arrest five persons for a security breach at Lok Sabha, in New Delhi on Thursday.
| Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The Parliament building stood sullenly silent on Thursday, a day after a major security breach when two men jumped from the visitors’ gallery into the Lok Sabha chamber.

There were no milling crowds on its grounds, no selfie takers, and no MPs giving sound bites. There was a blanket ban on visitors, except for a group of school students who marched in funereal silence accompanied by their teachers and closely guided by the security staff. Wednesday’s cacophony was loudly conspicuous by its absence. 

MPs, media segregated

A series of meetings to review security protocol and rectify loopholes have brought several changes. One of the entrance-and-exit gates to the new building has now been exclusively reserved for MPs, segregating them from the rest of the crowd.

The media was kept at an arm’s length, with security pushing journalists closer to the old building and carefully barricading the MPs’ entrance to ensure that none could come in their way. Any Parliamentarian wishing to speak to journalists now has to cross multiple barricades. No one, including media personnel, are allowed to stand for more than a few minutes in the corridors. 

The MPs, too, have been told to slow down, with no more sprinting in and out of the gates to be allowed. In a Parliamentary bulletin published on Wednesday night, hours after the incident, MPs were asked to approach the “flap barriers slowly and wait till their image is captured by the Facial Recognition Device”. Former MPs too have been barred from entering the Parliament. 

Staff, visitors face changes

The entrance and exit gates for the Parliament staff have also been changed. Many walked around disoriented in the new building, losing their way in the maze-like corridors and asking for directions. “We could enter from the Makar Dwar (the common gate for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Chamber) and we had memorised our way to our office through it. Now, we have to figure it out once again,” one staffer said. 

Even before the incident, there was a three-tier security structure in place for visitors. Barricades are placed at least 200 metres away from the Parliament building to check their passes. Valid pass-holders are then frisked twice before they can reach the visitors’ gallery. On Thursday, there was an enhanced security cover, with sniffer dog squads patrolling the grounds. 

Walking out of the chambers of both Houses to nearly empty lobbies, several MPs appreciated the orderly atmosphere. However, security personnel who are under immense pressure after yesterday’s slip-up said that they were overworked, warning that their present strength is not sufficient to cover the building’s multiple doors, both opening out to the grounds and inside in the lobby and the chambers. 

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