In the face of recent terror attacks in different parts of India and growing Naxal activities, the Punjab police have proposed to cut down the strength of security personnel attached with VIPs from the existing 8,000 to 3,500 — a reduction of over 55 per cent.
An official letter was recently sent to the state Home secretary by Punjab DGP N.P.S. Aulakh requesting the government to put a five per cent cap on personnel placed on security duties of the total strength of over 70,000.
The recommendation to this effect was made by the state police after assessing threat perception (TP) of all protectees — most of whom, the police feel, don't require such huge protection.
DGP Aulakh said: “Many protectees don’t need the level of security they are enjoying. We are in the process of scaling down their security cover and the personnel withdrawn from such duties would soon be pressed into service for normal policing.”
The state police have been under constant fire for providing “undue” security cover to politicians and other bigwigs — many of whom have between 50 to 100 security personnel at their disposal. There are a total of 8,000 personnel engaged in security duties. While 5,000 personnel are from Punjab Armed Police (PAP), Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and Commandoes, over 3,000 are from the district police.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has, meanwhile, ordered the state police to reduce the strength of personnel on security duties by at least 25 per cent.
Several VIPs have security cover far in excess of what they require. For example, Akali MLA Manjinder Singh Kang has about 69 personnel attached with him, while state Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon has around 40, Punjab Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon about 50 and Opposition leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal over 45.
Most ministers and parliamentary secretaries at present are enjoying security cover of 25 to 30 personnel as against the norm of 20 personnel fixed by the state police. “In Punjab, security cover for VIPs has become more of a status symbol. There is a need to change this mindset,” remarked an IG-rank officer.
Top security officials, meanwhile, said most vital installations — including Ranjit Sagar Dam, thermal plants, power grids, Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh — are under protected due to the paucity of police force.