It happened in broad daylight at about 0930, on Sunday, 25 April 2021, at the ATM of AXIS BANK on Old Airport Road, Bowenpally (ATM #APCN69811) .
As I was busy withdrawing cash, a middle-aged man enters the ATM from behind me, in spite of a clear sticker on the gate that only one person is allowed to enter at a time. His intentions became clear from what followed. When I started objecting and asked him to stay outside, he created a loud and aggressive ruckus, obviously to confuse me and divert my attention. Suddenly, he pounced on me and tried to snatch the money which had just popped out of the ATM. By instinct , I resisted and prevented him from grabbing my money. Frustrated by not being able to get what he wanted, he punched hard on my nose 3-4 times. This resulted in a fracture in the nasal bridge bone and very serious injury to my eye. Seeing the blood and also seeing that people had gathered outside, he quietly slipped out and fled the scene.
Of course, I called up the police and lodged a formal complaint along with what is called a MLC (Medico-legal Certificate) from a reputed hospital nearby. Now the football match between the police and others will start. The Police has other things to do.
The bank — AXIS Bank, obviously could’nt care less. The Bank is busy dilly dallying and inventing lame excuses and diplomatically-worded hollow promises.
If AXIS BANK is serious about customer safety, all that they have to do is implement some simple security measures. Here are a few suggestions to make roadside ATMs safer for users like me:
- Introduce a mechanism by which the ATM cabin can be bolted from inside. It should be possible to open it only from inside, or by authorised personnel, from outside (using a special tool).
Such latches are common in the toilets of all trains and planes.
- Provide a PANIC /SOS button plus a hooter inside the ATM cabin. The hooter/siren itself may also be placed outside the ATM cabin. Often, mobile phones may not be of help, since the culprit can easily snatch it while you are trying to dial for help.
Such “alarm chains” are provided in all passenger wagons in all trains.
- A hotline from the SOS/PANIC button to the nearest branch of the bank, or to the nearest police station, will help locate the distressed ATM easily and rush rescue teams to the ATM.
- Install appropriate sensors to detect the entry of more than one person into the ATM cabin and activate the panic hooter/siren.
- Provide CCTV cameras which monitor the street outside.
- Display prominently an emergency 24×7 phone number. And ensure that help arrives urgently. The 12 digit numbers being used now is of no value in an emergency. Use a number of not more than 3 digits like 100, 108
The above emergency SOS/PANIC number should be displayed prominently in the ATM cabin, as well as on the ATM monitor screen, and should be visible from outside the ATM cabin.
- Introduce sentries/guards and patrolling squads at all ATMs
- Introduce a more closer and meaningful relationship and arrangements with the local police and law enforcing agents.
- Regularly audit safety/security of all ATMs. Publish all security breaches and incidents and the remedial actions taken.
- Introduce pronto all other security arrangements not listed above.
- Adequately compensate the victims for any loss or bodily injury or death
- Provide insurance cover to ALL its customers for incidents like this.
I expect AXIS BANK (and all other banks) to announce the steps they have taken to improve safety and security for their customers. The bank is morally responsible to ensure the safety and security of all its customers within its premises (including all ATM cabins) .
PS: Please forward this message to your bank and to all your friends. Take care and stay safe. You can also send your suggestions and comments to email@example.com