The government wants to withdraw the security provided to social activist Teesta Setalvad, three Allahabad high court judges who pronounced the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict, and former teacher SAR Geelani, who was accused and acquitted in the Parliament attack case.
A Union home ministry official said on Tuesday security agencies have assessed and found that these people no longer face any threat to their lives now.
“They were provided guards in accordance with court orders for security to them. Since they don’t face any threat now, we may have to approach the courts to withdraw their security cover,” said the official who didn’t wish to be named.
Their security cover and scale of threat will be discussed at a meeting of the protection review group, which looks into the security cover of central protectees. It will decide if these people should be guarded.
Setalvad, who fought for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots, is a vocal critic of the NDA government and her charitable organisations have been under the lens since BJP-led front came to power in 2014.
“I face continuous threats in the form of phone calls and trolls on social media. If the government wants to withdraw my security, I believe it wants the threat to become physical,” Teesta said over the phone.
The home ministry has barred her NGOs – Sabrang Trust and Citizen for Justice and Peace – from receiving foreign donations because of alleged breach in funding norms.
Setalvad was provided “Y category” security on the directions of the Supreme Court in 2004. This category entitles a protectee around half-a-dozen guards.
Besides her, another lawyer of the Gujarat riot victims, Rais Khan Pathan, was given similar central security that the government now wants to withdraw.
Former Delhi University college teacher Geelani, who was charged with conspiracy and sedition after the 2001 Parliament attack, was given “Y” category security too, after he survived an attempt on his life in 2005.
Another central protectee whose security cover may be withdrawn is Vishwanath Chaturvedi, known for requesting the Supreme Court to order a CBI inquiry against former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family for allegedly amassing assets disproportionate to their income.
“I still face threats from opponents. I get security only when I go to Uttar Pradesh. Despite a court order, I am not being provided security in Delhi. If my security is withdrawn, I will bring it immediately to the court’s notice,” Chaturvedi said.
Geelani could not be reached for comments.
Similar security was given to Allahabad high court judges — Sudhir Agarwal, SU Khan and DV Sharma — who heard the Ram Janmabhoomi trial and pronounced the verdict.
There were fears then that the radical Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, could target and harm the judges. Khan and Sharma have since retired, but the government guards haven’t been withdrawn.
“The SIMI operatives who posed a threat to the judges were killed last October after a jailbreak in Bhopal. Some of their associates were killed in Andhra Pradesh,” an official said.