Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday set into motion a full-scale security review to cut drastically the security cover of well-heeled people keeping in view fresh threat perception, in an exercise under which the escort and pilot vehicles of police, cabinet ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries will also be withdrawn.
On Tuesday, the deputy CM held a meeting in this connection, which was attended, among others, by director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini, additional director general of police (law and order and security), Dinkar Gupta, inspector general (IG) rank officers from the field and police commissioners.
Government sources say escort vehicles of a section of the Chandigarh-based Punjab police of ficers will be withdrawn, while the practice of cabinet ministers having a pilot vehicle en-route to their destination has been withdrawn.
Henceforth, the pilot vehicle will be attached with the cabinet ministers only at the destination they will be visiting for official functions and not en-route to their destination. On the other hand, the government decided to completely withdraw the practice of giving pilot vehicles to the chief parliamentary secretaries.
It is learnt that about 105 escort vehicles have been allotted to a range of government officials, including politicians.
The deputy CM, sources say, directed the police authorities to look into the security norms of others states also while undertaking the latest “full-scale security review” which is aimed at curtailing the appeasing policy of deploying gun-wielding cops to boost the status of well-connected people at the cost of taxpayers. A two-week deadline has been set up for the purpose.
Sources say there are over 7,000 cops deployed legally or otherwise on personal security. The per-month cost of providing one constable as personal security officer is about Rs. 50,000 as the pay of cops in Punjab is the highest in the country. The starting salary of a constable is about Rs. 29,000 in the state.
In 2012 also, the government had pulled out near 2,000 police personnel deployed with several VIPs across the state. But it turned out to be an exercise in futility as VIPs began managing security cover again on one pretext or the other.
The deputy CM directed ADGP Dinkar Gupta to complete the exercise within two weeks and critically re-ascertain the threat perception on the basis of which the security would be provided in future.
In the meeting, Sukhbir Badal said “strictest possible action” would be taken against the police officers posted in the districts if they were found guilty of providing the cops for security without any approval from the committee constituted for this purpose.