Explosive recovery punches holes in UP Vidhan Bhavan’s three-tier security
The Vidhan Bhavan has a three-tier security system. The jawans of the state police are deployed around the boundary wall and the gate of the building. The second layer is manned by security personnel deputed by the secretariat administration department. They are posted in the gallery of the Vidhan Bhavan. The third tier is managed by marshals inside the assembly hall.lucknow Updated: Jul 15, 2017 16:34 IST
The recovery of the high- potential plastic explosive PETN (Pentaerythritol tetranitrate) in the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly has put a question mark on the three-tier security of the Vidhan Bhavan in which the assembly and the legislative council are located.
When the legislative assembly and the council are in session, the security of the Vidhan Bhavan and the adjoining buildings housing the state government’s secretariat are tightened.
Even at other times, there is round-the-clock vigil on the Vidhan Bhavan in the high-security zone of the city.
Talking to HT, a secretariat administration officer, who refused to be named, said, “The Vidhan Bhavan has a three-tier security system. The jawans of the state police are deployed around the boundary wall and the gate of the building. The second layer is manned by security personnel deputed by the secretariat administration department. They are posted in the gallery of the Vidhan Bhavan. The third tier is managed by marshals inside the assembly hall.”
The lawmakers, staff and visitors entering the Vidhan Bhavan premises have to pass through the three-tier security to reach the assembly.
Police personnel, secretariat security staff and marshals have been directed to maintain a watch on the people entering assembly.
Nevertheless, Samajwadi Party MLA IK Qureshi said: “The security staff generally do not frisk people. They just tell them not to enter with weapons, mobile phones and tobacco.”
Another official said there was a lack of coordination between the state police, secretariat administration personnel and marshals. Each works independent of the other. Before the start of the session, a meeting of the officers of each wing is held to discuss the security arrangements. “It’s a mere formality as there is no synchronisation between the three security wings,” said the police officer.
In 2010, the security of the Lal Bahadur Shastri ‘Annexe’ housing the chief minister’s office at the time was breached when the police arrested a suspected ISI agent who had entered the building posing as maintenance staff during the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) regime.
The state government decided to strengthen the security of the CM’s office as well as Vidhan Bhavan but the security work plan was put in cold storage.
The security of the Vidhan Bhavan also came under scanner during the Samajwadi Party government after the police found that some secretariat staff were running a fake recruitment racket from offices in the Vidhan Bhavan. The police registered an FIR. A high- level probe was ordered and the entry of unauthorised people was restricted. The state government ordered the cancellation of entry passes. But, after a few days, the old system was back in place and people were permitted to enter at will.
In January this year, the police arrested a fake section officer Abhisek Nigam who was running a recruitment racket in the chief secretary’s guestroom located in a high- security area of the secretariat. The state government ordered a probe but no action has been taken yet.
Former BSP MLA RN Pandey said, “During the BSP rule, not only was the entry of unauthorised people restricted, but the parking of private vehicles was not allowed around the Vidhan Bhavan. These days, due to illegal parking, traffic jams have become a routine affair on Vidhan Sabha Marg.”
After the BJP won power earlier this year, the state government cancelled over 300 entry passes. A large number of vehicle passes issued to the secretariat staff were also cancelled. Nevertheless, the gallery and parking area of the Vidhan Bhavan have remained full of people and vehicles.
A secretariat administration officer said a letter was sent to the Lucknow Municipal Corporation to check illegal parking, but nothing had been done yet.
Gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, the BSP MLA from Mau, alleged that the plastic explosive was planted in the opposition benches to kill him. He claimed this was not the first time a conspiracy was hatched to target him in the House.
“A decade ago, my rivals plotted to kill me in the Vidhan Bhavan. The then CM Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered a probe. Later, the STF killed the main conspirator Raju Tiwari. The security of the Vidhan Bhavan should be beefed up,” he said.
On the first day of the budget session, law and justice minister Brijesh Pathak objected to the entry of Congress MLAs with soap and shampoo in the assembly.
“It’s a security breach and the life of lawmakers has been put at risk. I will urge the speaker to order the frisking of the members before they enter the assembly,” he had said.