The murder of Bhupendra Vira has again spurred up the issue of providing police protection to activists and whistleblowers. While there is still no clarity on whether Vira had reported the threat to his life, senior police officers said that every commissionerate and district headquarter had been powered to provide police protection to activists if they need it.
Director general of police Satish Mathur said, “One can approach the concerned police chief in the city or district. A committee reviews the complaint, following which security is granted to the concerned person, based on the gravity of the threat. If there is an emergency, the police chief takes a decision.”
The panel that decides on the security applications meets once a month for a review.
Former police officers said that there are certain limitations but security should be granted after taking stock of the the nature of the threat.
“There are two ways to tackle this. After such incidents, the culprits should be quickly caught and punished. In cases of threats to an individual, the police should decide what kind of protection is provided,” said former Mumbai police commissioner M.N Singh. “Police protection cannot be granted to a class, for example politicians or activists, but based on individual threat perception. There are certain limitations on policemen.” he added. Singh, during his tenure, had reduced the security for politicians as there were around 3,000 policemen deployed for the purpose.
There are clear instructions against ignoring threats. “The government has already said that security will be provided to the threatened if they ask for it. The high court has intervened in some cases and ensured protection, accordingly,” said Praveen Dixit, former director general of police, Maharashtra.