Broken metal detectors reveal a city that's still unprepared

In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, when 10 gunmen wrought havoc on the city, metal detectors were installed at the city's Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminal where more than 50 people were killed.

But yesterday afternoon, as police said they were doing all they could to protect the city from further terror attacks after three blasts on Wednesday killed 18 people in the city, less than 25 per cent of the machines were even switched on. "That is broken," said one police officer, seated at a table in the station once known as the Victoria Terminus, pointing to one machine while his colleagues busied themselves with a newspaper crossword. Even when some of the hundreds of commuters did walk through one of the machines that was switched on, officers did not even blink if the buzzer sounded.

Less than five minutes away from the terminal, at the Azad Maidan police station, Rukesh Maria, head of Maharashtra state's anti terrorist squad, made an appeal for the public to have faith. "No effort will be spared. Have faith and trust in the police," he said.

But the latest attacks have again triggered debate about why the authorities appear under-equipped to prevent attacks on the city.