51 VIPs lose security cover
Determined to trim India’s long list of VIPs who move with gun-totting police commandos, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has ordered immediate withdrawal of security personnel deployed around 51 VIPs — politicians, civil servants and police officers — and scale down protection to another 21 protectees.delhi Updated: Sep 10, 2009 01:41 IST
Determined to trim India’s long list of VIPs who move with gun-totting police commandos, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has ordered immediate withdrawal of security personnel deployed around 51 VIPs — politicians, civil servants and police officers — and scale down protection to another 21 protectees.
Chidambaram passed the orders before leaving for United States after an extensive security review of “Y” category protectees at the Ministry of Home Affairs concluded that half of the 126 protectees in this category either did not need any security or had too many of them.
Among those who lost security cover this week are Uttrakhand Governor Margaret Alva, former chief of National Technical Research Organisation R.S. Bedi and Delhi Police’s Special Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who has headed the intelligence wing of Delhi Police and dealt with sensitive cases in a stint at the Central Bureau of Investigation.
“We have been able to free up 377 police personnel due to this review, security personnel who can go back to protecting ordinary citizens, fighting Naxals or protecting vital installations,” a senior Home Ministry official told HT on Wednesday.
The commandos were diverted for VIP protection from Delhi Police, Central Reserve Police Force and the Central Industrial Security Force.
The home ministry places people who face threats from terrorists or organised crime in four categories — X, Y, Z and Z+.
A similar exercise for protectees placed in X category had similarly halved their number. Of the 58 VIPs in this list, the ministry ordered withdrawal of security from 34 people, including former Congress MP Govinda.
Another exercise to review threat perception for Z category protectees is expected to get underway soon.
The ministry is also working on a plan — also a brainchild of the home minister — to overhaul the number of categories. This, sources said, would give the ministry more leeway in reducing the number of security personnel. If there were some more categories, it would be easier to downgrade politically sensitive cases, one step at a time.
Ideally, the extent of protection — Z+ is for protectees who figure high on threat perception list and X is for the least protected — is determined on the basis of threat only.
But with politicians counting the number of commandos standing over their shoulders as a status symbol, the principle for security on the basis of threat alone had been diluted. For instance, pandemonium in the Lok Sabha by Bahujan Samaj Party members to protest moves to withdraw Black Cat commandos from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati forced the Prime Minister’s Office