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      Volume 12 |Issue 03| January 18, 2013 |


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Special Feature


Crimes committed by security guards put the efficiency of security services-providing companies into question

Tamanna Khan

Perhaps, the 60- year-old woman lawyer, late Rawshan Ara never thought that the two security guards, who greeted her at the gate of her apartment building, had murderous intentions. So she opened the door without a second thought when one of the guards rang her door bell on the morning of December 31, 2012 about 25 days before her daughter's wedding ceremony. But the very people she trusted ended up killing her while trying to rob as much cash and gold they could lay their hands on.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Moshiur Rahman of the Detective Branch (DB) recounts the incident, based on the confessions of the two security guards, arrested on charges of the murder of Rawshan Ara. He says that the two young men Tajul Islam alias Solaiman, alais Robin and Russell Ahmed alias Sakib, both about 19-20 years-old, had joined the apartment building Sheltech Tulip, in Mirpur -10, as security guards on December 12, from Amicon Security Services (PVT) Ltd.

It is difficult to prevent crime in a growing metropolis like Dhaka. Photo: Amirul Rajiv

Coming from the margins of society, both were previously involved in petty crime, says Rahman, who led the DB police team that arrested the culprits nine days after the murder and robbery. Both had used false identification and certificates to join Amicon. After joining as guards in Sheltech Tulip they started planning robberies. Rahman informs that the duo had initially wanted to steal cars. They even contacted car thieves in Gabtoli, however, that scheme somehow did not work out, informs Rahman. They then started taking notes of the different families living in the apartment building — the number of family members, their occupation, age, schedule as in when they went out of the house or came in, how wealthy they were and such. “Out of the twelve families, who lived in the apartment building, they targeted five that had fewer family members,” Rahman recounts.

Rawshan Ara's small family with her 60 plus, university professor husband and only daughter, who is a doctor counted for an easy target especially with the daughter's forthcoming wedding. Tajul and Russell had an idea about the schedule of the family and assumed that there must be some jewellery and money kept in the house for the wedding. “Though they did not have a plan to actually kill someone, they bought a sharp Chinese knife, just in case, by selling the fan in the guard's room for Tk 500,” says Rahman adding that they had attempted the robbery thrice before December 31, but could not gather the courage to carry it out.

Desperate, Tajul and Russell had somehow managed a pillow cover from somewhere. On the day of the incident, after Rawshan Ara's husband and daughter left the house, one of them went to Ara's flat and rang the bell asking Ara to check whether the pillow cover was hers. The other guard came up under the pretence of looking for the first and then they tried to gag Ara with the cover. They took her to the bedroom where they strangled her with the bed sheet. “Since the lady was 60- years- old and had diabetes, she could not fight back the two young men and in a few minutes she succumbed to death,” relates Rahman.

One of the causes of such unfortunate incidents taking place within the safe boundary of our homes can be attributed to the negligence of security companies who provide security personnel to guard our valuables. Rahman notes that the company that supplied Tajul and Russell to Sheltech Tulip, did not carry out proper background checks. Referring to Amicon Security Services (Pvt) Ltd, he says that it is a poor company in name only, without even any permanent address.

Many security service providers do not carry out proper background checks on the security guards they recruit. Photo: Zahedul I Khan

Out of about 250 security service providing companies that currently exists in Bangladesh only the top few have an elaborate recruitment and training process. Dhanmondi resident, Muhammad Hassan's flat was robbed during the last Eid holidays and he suspects negligence of his apartment's security guard as the cause. “When we returned home seven days after Eid, we tried to open the door and noticed it was locked from inside,” he recounts adding how they later found out that robbers had entered their flat on the first floor of their six-storied apartment building by cutting a window grill. The window is on the front of the house, just by the main road. Right below the window is a slope acting as a shed for the main gate. “The gateman sits right under that shed,” he says, implying the reason for suspecting the negligence of the guard. The guard who was on duty during the robbery was hired from Mazda Security Service. “After this incident, they had sent a person who came and asked for the list of things that were lost,” he says, adding that no one from the security company came afterwards, even when they were asked to cooperate through a letter sent by the chairman of the apartment building's management committee.

Hassan opines that many security service providers such as Mazda recruit people from remote villages of Bangladesh. “Often they are elderly and unfit men, who have no work or are unwanted by their families. Using their network, the security companies identify these people, who will work for a meagre pay and bring them to Dhaka and give them jobs as security guards. They do not provide them with any training. All the guards do is open and close the gates,” says Hassan in a bitter tone.

About their recruiting process, Abul Hossain, managing director of Mazda Security Service, says, “Those who work in our company, they bring in their relatives and acquaintances from their village neighbourhood. We do not publish any advertisement for recruitment.” Hossain says that they ask for voter identification card, union chairman's certificates, birth certificate and photographs. “We sometimes try to collect the mobile number of the chairman, especially those who cannot produce a birth certificate,” he adds saying that mobile numbers of the candidate's wife or brother is also collected. Regarding training, Hossain says that they provide a basic seven day physical fitness training to the recruits before sending them on contract to different apartments and corporate buildings.

Talking about compensation, in case of any incidents that happens due to the negligence or involvement of the security guard, Hossain says it is the biggest enemy for the security providers. “Sometimes we give conditions. Say a client has hired three people. I cannot give five lakh taka as compensation for three guards. In that case, we mention in the deed that we will provide as compensation Tk 30,000- Tk 50,000 or more,” he says adding that the company is ready to provide this only if the allegations against their security personnel can be proved.

Unlike Hassan, Azad Akhand whose motorbike was stolen from his apartment building's parking lot in East Sheorapara, Mirpur, was able to acquire compensation from the security service provider, Dristi Security Company. “I was informed about it very early in the morning and I came downstairs and found the lock of my motor cycle broken and also the main gate to the apartment ajar. We could not find the gatekeeper, who left behind his security guard's dress,” he recalls. Akhand had immediately lodged a general diary at the police station and called the security company and informed them of the theft. The company cooperated and after three days brought back the guard from his village. Akhand however did not file a case against anyone since the company agreed to compensate Tk 1 lakh for his motorbike.

While compensations can make up for goods lost, lives like Rawshan Ara's cannot be restored. Therefore the responsibility on the part of the security providers becomes crucial. A transparent recruitment process and proper background check of the security guards must be ensured. In case of Rawshan Ara's murder, ADC Moshiur Rahman also blames the building's apartment owner's association for not keeping ID cards with photographs of the guards and their referrals' contact numbers for the sake of security. “For your own security you have to keep records of the persons you are employing along with their photographs. The (security) companies can have their own data but the employers should take photographs of the personnel on the day of joining, their mobile numbers, mobile number of a referee, and also call at that number to check if it is correct,” he suggests.

A visit to Sheltech Tulip reveals that the owner's association perhaps has learnt their lesson. The sixty-plus security guard, sitting at the entrance, wishing to remain anonymous informs that he had submitted two copies of his bio-data and other documents when he was hired in the post on January 6. “I had to submit one copy to the security company and another to owner's association of the apartment building,” he says.

As Rahman says it may not be possible to prevent crimes in this city of two crore seventeen thousand people just by keeping their information and past records, but keeping alert never hurts. Had Tajul and Russell foreseen the consequence of their deeds and knew the risk involved in planning and committing such a crime, Rawshan Ara's life probably could have been spared.


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