The controversy over whether two Muslim drivers should have been a part of BJP President LK Advani’s convoy or not during his recent Kerala visit was a needless one. Even though news reports have suggested that this was done at the behest of the National Security Guards, the Kerala government has denied that the two policemen were excluded from the Leader of Opposition’s security ring. Security has to be viewed objectively, not emotionally. This is certainly not an area where the argument about negative social profiling of the minorities can be held valid. It may be true that minorities, especially Muslims, might get singled out but so far as issues concerning security are concerned, this cannot be held against those responsible for providing security to our VVIPs.
Anywhere in the world, security experts will agree that the deployment around the protectee is always done keeping in view the threat perception and certainly not what others, including the media, think about the issue. Even the protectee has no role in determining who should be in his/her security cordon or in the inner ring as the matter is best left to experts in the field.
It is important to recall here the facts that were placed before the S Anandaram Special Investigation Team which probed Indira Gandhi’s assassination to understand the consequences of political intervention in security matters. Soon after Operation Blue Star in 1984, Sikh bodyguards were withdrawn from Ms Gandhi’s security. Finding new security personnel deployed around her, the former Prime Minister had asked where her previous guards had disappeared. The removal of the Sikh guards was done not because of any threat perception. It was done because intelligence agencies had figured out that the community had turned against her. But the guards were brought back on political intervention and the rest is history.
The Indian security agencies have learnt a lot since then. Advani has been repeatedly threatened by Muslim fundamentalists because of his pro-Hindutva stance. Obviously, no securityman will want to take even half a chance. Such decisions should not be viewed as a reflection on the credentials or integrity of the two Muslim drivers but as a precautionary measure arising out of threat perceptions. Such measures are taken world over and it is best not be emotional about such issues.