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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Political storm over Z security cover to Som

Manish Chandra Pandey, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, August 28, 2014
First Published: 19:06 IST(28/8/2014) | Last Updated: 19:57 IST(28/8/2014)
In the political algebra of Uttar Pradesh, finding X-Y-Z is often a complex problem. The mathematics often does not add up.

No wonder, when security of BJP MLA Sangeet Som, linked to the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, was upgraded from Y to Z category, it kicked up a political storm.

But Som isn't the only one with a penchant for armed guards around him.

Another BJP MLA Suresh Rana, named in the same riots, too was given Y category security cover. His aides, however, cited intelligence and police inputs to defend the security review.

"You can check with local intelligence and police officials whether or not vidhayakji (MLA) requires more security. The problem is if we demand more, it gets politicised," a Rana aide told HT.

Read: Z-security for UP riots accused triggers a row

At least 10 other politicians from riot-scarred west UP whom HT spoke to claimed similar threat to their lives and were in different stages of applying for enhanced security. Over 8,000 applications are pending with the state home department.

But police officials see another reason behind the rush for security.

"In a majority of the cases, enhanced security is just an attempt to flaunt status," a police official told HT. 

MLA Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit's security was recently scaled down after it was found during a review that he had more guards than his Y cover allowed.

The UP government spends a whopping Rs. 100-crore annually in securing these leaders.

Former chief minister Mayawati was clearly - and still is - one of the most 'secure' politicians. Between 2007 and 2012, her security cover included over 400 personnel around her.

At the last count, Z-plus security cover was provided to 11 top leaders including governor, chief minister, former CMs and other well-known politicians.

These included senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar who had claimed threat to his life on the basis of a phone call allegedly made by unknown persons from Dubai. The "call" had come a few days before his security was up for review by the union home ministry.

Another police official said that problems only arise when politician's security is scaled down. "And if this happens to an opposition leader, accusations of foul play fly thick and fast," the official added.

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