The Centre’s decision to provide Z security cover to Uttar Pradesh BJP legislator Sangeet Som has kicked up a political storm, with the Congress questioning whether a person “who is a threat to others” deserved the status.
“Someone who has been accused of instigating (Muzaffarnagar) riots is a threat to others. I fail to understand this decision of beefing up his security cover,” Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.
The youngest of all the present BJP legislators in UP, Som, 35, who represents Sardhana assembly segment of Meerut, was guarded by five security men so far. As per the new security detail, he gets about 30 guards and bulletproof vehicles. In a police FIR, he had been accused of making inflammatory speeches and uploading a video of a lynching that fanned the riots in Muzaffarnagar that left at least 60 dead, most of them Muslims, and 40,000 displaced.
Now in his second stint with the BJP, Som has earlier served in both the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.
The SP government, however, disassociated itself from the move.
“All that we know is that the government had provided Y category security to the BJP MLA on the orders of the Allahabad High Court. The UP government knows nothing about any elevation in the MLA’s security cover,” a government spokesman said.
According to Som, however, since the security team provided to him comprises guards of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), there was no reason why UP government should have been informed.
The SP government had in fact withdrawn the security cover to Som soon after coming to power in 2012 and had cited local intelligence clearance for the move.
Immediately after his cover was withdrawn, he had claimed an attack on his life. On BJP’s demand, the security was provided, but the Y security cover came much later after court intervention.
Apparently not satisfied with the five guard security he enjoyed then, Som moved the HC claiming that he faced threat from those whose interests were hit due to his campaign against cow slaughter. The court agreed that he required the Y cover.
“I have been targeted once when unidentified assailants fired at me in Meerut last year. Then again, while I was in jail after being implicated in the Muzaffarnagar riots I had received a threat from Jammu and Kashmir based terrorist organisations,” Som said.
“The terrorists had sent a letter threatening that me and my family which includes my two small children would be killed.”
He said he had moved the Union home ministry for a security review during the Congress-led UPA II government’s tenure as well.
Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai, also an MLA from Meerut, defended the enhanced security cover for Som.
"Our opponents are claiming that he was detained under the NSA and hence should not be given security. Well, the NSA was revoked by the court. It was clear that NSA was wrongly slapped on him," he said.