The Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) experts — protecting top politicians, including the Prime Minister, have launched a discreet exercise across the country to train and sensitise the state police brass about the mounting security challenges in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in the country.
Having already covered many states under this closely-guarded exercise, the IB and SPG sleuths on Monday held a lengthy meeting in Amritsar with senior Punjab police officers of the border belt and took them through a ‘capsule course’ about the nature of threats, how to ward off untoward incidents and deal with VIP security challenges, top government sources said.
The deputy director-rank officer of the IB is leading a three-member team in Punjab. Security experts will hold another sensitisation session in Bathinda on Tuesday.
The security agencies are focussing on Amritsar and Bathinda Lok Sabha seats in view of top-ranking politicians from the BJP and Congress coming for campaigning to these high-stakes battlefields.
Sources say apart from contingency measures and quality and quantity of the equipment, the focus of the central security experts has been on anti-sabotage checks, active involvement of senior officers in every security drill planning and implementation coordination with the central security forces deployed on election duty in the state, besides the common security lapses during elections which could cause major troubles.
In an identical move, union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday chaired a meeting of state DGPs and home secretaries with primary focus on the security of political leaders.
CENTRAL FORCES IN PUNJAB
Meanwhile, following a request from the Punjab government, the union home ministry on Monday gave the nod to send 20 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF). Within this week, these 20 companies — about 2,000 personnel —will be deployed in Punjab.
Already, 15 companies one company has about 100 men — of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) are on poll duty in the state with the primary task of spearheading the Election Commission’s drive against transportation of black money and liquor. In all, more than 180 paramilitary companies are likely to be deployed for election duty in this border state.
SECURITY OF CANDIDATES
Leaving nothing to chance, the Punjab police top brass has circulated minimum norms of security arrangements for all candidates of recognised political parties.
All commissioners of police (CPs) and district police chiefs were directed to furnish a certificate under their own signatures by Monday, certifying that minimum norms of security have been put in place.
The state police brass has further directed the CPs and SSPs that on the basis of local threat assessment, if they feel the need for additional security arrangements for a particular candidate( s), this would be made by the CPs and SSPs without seeking prior approval from the police headquarters. Further, the district police chiefs have been directed to make their own threat assessment regarding every announced candidate and make the required personal security arrangements.