The government has scaled down security cover to several politicians, including former Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and former external affairs minister Natwar Singh, on the basis of a fresh threat assessment.
P. Chidambaram has refused the recommendation to have more than one policeman guard him while he is in Delhi. Intelligence agencies had recommended upgrading the home minister's protection from the current “Y” level to “Z plus”.
VIP security cover is categorised into 'Z plus' for the most protected, followed by 'Z', 'Y' and 'X'. The categories are determined according to an analysis of intelligence reports.
In view of Chidambaram's reluctance on grounds that he felt “safe” and did not need any more gun-toting security personnel around him, a ministry official indicated that Delhi Police had been asked to deploy adequate personnel at places visited by the home minister.
“The panel of security experts had made their recommendation some months back. The ministry issued the orders last week,” an official said.
Besides Amar Singh, whose security has been downgraded from “Z” to “Y” category, officials said chairman of Scheduled Castes Commission Buta Singh and Natwar Singh were also going to find the number of policemen around them reduced.
There were some reports that security cover to Natwar Singh was being withdrawn but there was no independent confirmation.
Also on the radar was Suresh Pachouri, Madhya Pradesh Congress chief and a former minister of state, who had been enjoying Z-plus category security. Orders have been issued for reduction of his security also, the official said, refusing to spell out the details.
A home ministry official said security cover to former National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and former home minister Shivraj Patil — now governors of West Bengal and Punjab respectively — had been handed over to the states.