No road shows, please. This message, being circulated in strict confidence by security agencies among all the political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, is intended to preempt any risks in the election year in the state.
After the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in a pre-poll rally in Rawalpindi last week, politicians have been asked to move about carefully.
“We conducted a review of the security situation in J&K after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and discussed possible measures to keep political leaders safe,” said state DGP Kuldip Khoda.
In fact, the first review was conducted on December 28 — a day after Benazir’s death. Within a couple of days, the situation was reviewed once again after watching the footage of the assassination. The state police have also gone through various media reports looking for lapses that led to her killing.
A pocket-sized laminated card, printed on both sides in bold letters, will be delivered to politicians, asking them to adhere to the dos and don’ts on their personal security, official sources said.
Politicians have been warned particularly against road shows, moving about in open jeeps and undertaking tours without seeking security clearance. They have also been cautioned against public appearances before mid-morning and after sunset.
Senior leaders who have survived attempts on their lives in the past few years have been told to use only bullet proof cars and never accept bouquets or allow anyone to come close to them during public appearances.
Security agencies in Kashmir have analysed several lapses in the security of Benazir Bhutto. First of all, if she was traveling in a bullet-proof vehicle, there should have been no sunroof. That defeats the purpose of using a bullet-proof car. Popping up from a sunroof makes the person's neck and head vulnerable. This is precisely what happened to Bhutto. Bullet-proof vehicles should have tinted glasses and there should be no provision to lower the windowpanes.
Leaders in Kashmir are particularly fond of conducting road shows and mingling freely with people, often throwing caution to the winds in the belief that they are well protected.
More than 700 political activists of all parties, mostly of the National Conference, have been killed since militancy broke out in the state. The extremist targets include ministers, legislators and top functionaries of the parties.
All the top leaders of various parties, including Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and his predecessors Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Farooq Abdullah, have escaped several assassination bids. They continue to be on the hit-list of militant outfits.