Overprotected VIPs losing extra cover | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Overprotected VIPs losing extra cover

The Home Ministry has withdrawn the security cover of more than 20 important personages and reduced that of some others who it felt were overprotected. Home Minister P Chidambaram is clearly delivering on his promise to undertake a comprehensive review of the security provided to VIPs, writes Tushar Srivastava. India's most guarded

delhi Updated: Aug 26, 2009 01:57 IST

The Home Ministry has withdrawn the security cover of more than 20 important personages and reduced that of some others who it felt were overprotected. The level of security provided to a number of other VIPs is also being examined, and may be changed in coming weeks.

Home Minister P Chidambaram is clearly delivering on his promise to undertake, within six months of taking charge, a comprehensive review of the security provided to VIPs.

Thus in the past week, the security cover of persons whose security threat appeared negligible – including former MP and actor Govinda, former chief justice Y. K. Sabarwal and Uttar Pradesh strongman cum politician D P Yadav – has been removed altogether, while that of former home minister Shivraj Patil and the BJP’s Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi, has been significantly reduced.

In the capital alone, there are 450 people in the category of ‘Protected Persons’ who get some degree of state provided security. They are divided, in ascending order of increased security, into ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’ and ‘Z+’ sub categories.

Opposition leader Lal Krishna Advani’s security cover, for instance, comprises a staggering 258 men. Samajwadi Party heavyweight Amar Singh has 59 people guarding him, Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan 57, former vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat 47, chairman of the national commission for scheduled castes Buta Singh, 35.

Around 100-120 policemen on average are attached to a police station in Delhi. The level of increased policing that would be possible if these men were freed up is staggering.

“Cutting down security makes a minister unpopular. That’s why earlier no home minister did it,” said a senior official. “The tendency was always to increase VIP security, not reduce it, whether he needed it or not.”

Chidamabaram has also set a personal example, by refusing to increase his security above the Y category, though as Home Minister, he could well have done so.