More than 300 personal security officers (PSOs) are protecting 146 lives in Delhi, reveals a reply to an HT application under the RTI Act to the Delhi Police.
While the VIPs and other people in top government positions get security from the Delhi Police (security branch) on the recommendation of the home ministry, these 146 individuals fall in another category of protectees who get personal security from the local police.
A majority of these individuals are allegedly victims of property dispute or gang wars, said a senior police officer.
A district-wise break up of protectees revealed that the highest number of people with threat on their lives in outer Delhi stands at 30. The northeast and south district came second and third with 27 and 25 people, respectively.
“In outer Delhi, the majority of PSOs have been given to female family members of gangsters who were murdered in gang wars,” said a police officer.
Another reason pushing up demand for personal security is a manifold rise in property prices in Delhi, especially in south Delhi, leading to crimes related to real estate.
Besides, courts have also asked the police to provide protection to witnesses and victims in high-profile crime cases.
“In rape cases, we normally give PSOs to the victims to make them feel safe,” said a police officer from the police headquarter.
The Delhi Police reply revealed that the demand for PSOs has gone up from 100% to 400% in some districts. For instance, in west district, there were only three people with six PSOs in 2012. The number of protectees is now 14 and PSOs 24.
Similarly, in north district, there was only one person with two PSOs in 2012, but today the number of protectees has gone up to 27 and PSOs 52.
“There is a system of periodic review of the security provided to persons on the basis of threat perception. Security in each individual case is reviewed by the security review committee/district protectees. The decision to withdraw, reduce or enhance the cover is taken by these committees,” said the public information officer in response to the HT application.
Senior police officers agreed that despite having a review system, people who have been availing this facility often misuse it to threaten neighbours and try to take undue advantage.
“In one case, a woman has been given eight PSOs for many years and when we try to remove it, she makes a hue and cry in such a way as if she is the most vulnerable victim in Delhi,” said the officer.
“Anyone who gets security at the state’s cost doesn’t want to give it up easily.”