RSS spurns Badal govt’s offer for security to leaders | punjab | Hindustan Times
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RSS spurns Badal govt’s offer for security to leaders

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has spurned the Punjab government offer for providing police security to its leaders and office-bearers after the attack on Sangh leader Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd) in Jalandhar last week. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, who holds the home portfolio, and police top brass have sought a list from the RSS of its leaders who need security.

punjab Updated: Aug 12, 2016 11:30 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and police top brass have sought a list from the RSS of its leaders who need security.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and police top brass have sought a list from the RSS of its leaders who need security.(HT File Photo)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has spurned the Punjab government offer for providing police security to its leaders and office-bearers after the attack on Sangh leader Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd) in Jalandhar last week. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, who holds the home portfolio, and police top brass have sought a list from the RSS of its leaders who need security.

Read: Post attack on RSS leader, PMO kept Punjab top brass on its toes

“The government has deputed cops in our offices in Punjab districts and asked us to provide a list of RSS leaders who need security. But there should be no need for police security. People of Punjab should be safe. The sequence of events in the past few months -- from attack on a RSS shakha in Ludhiana to murder of Namdhari sect matriarch Chand Kaur to attack on Gagneja -- have all shown that divisive forces are trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the state before elections. The Punjab government is blaming foreign handbut it is also a law and order failure,” Punjab BJP organisational secretary, Dinesh Kumar, an RSS representative, told HT.

Kumar was part of the Punjab BJP delegation that met Union home minister Rajnath Singh at New Delhi on Tuesday. He said the Sangh has never felt the need for security in any state of the country and nowhere else are political leaders and VIPs seen “flaunting security” like in Punjab. “The cops have been deployed for securing individuals rather than the people of the state. So instead of maintaining law and order, they are guarding VIPs. During our meeting with Rajnath, we flagged the deteriorating law and order situation in the state which has seen a spate of such attacks,” he added.

Read: Attackers untraced, bike had fake registration number

Facing the heat, Punjab Police claims Gagneja had been intimated about the threat perception two weeks ago and allotted two guards. “But he refused security when the Jalandhar police commissioner visited him. We can’t be blamed if someone refuses security,” a top police official said. But the RSS questions why police could not prevent the attack if it knew about the threat to Gagneja’s life. “Why did police fail to prevent the attack despite being aware of a possibility. There was a police post nearby where Gagneja was attacked. The police took 45 minutes to reach there,” Kumar said.

Read: Docs say ‘marginal’ improvement in RSS leader Gagneja’s condition

THREAT PERCEPTION TO RSS NOT HIGH: COPS

Though police have alerted all SSPs to step up security around RSS shakhas in districts, sources say the threat perception to RSS is “not high” as it maintains a “low profile” unlike leaders of various factions of Shiv Sena in Punjab and the All India Hindu Suraksha Samiti (AIHSS) who give “provocative” statements against Sikh radicals.

A Punjab Police intelligence report in December 2011 – ahead of assembly polls in January 2012 -- too had alerted on higher threat to RSS and AIHSS leaders following attack on Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara inside the premises of district courts in Chandigarh in November that year. But the list of seven leaders that the report said needed security were factions of the Shiv Sena and AIHSS and none of the RSS.

One of these seven, Manish Sood, president of the Punjab unit of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti was killed by his security guard at his residence in Sirhind Mandi of Fatehgarh Sahib in August last year. Others continue to remain under “high threat perception category” despite some of them now turning towards cow vigilantism such as Ramesh Kumar Dutt, an AIHSS leader of Mohali. Dutt, who has got two cops on security duty, however denies he uses his security for “cow protection”.

Claiming that his organisation cares for cows at many gaushalas in Mohali, Dutt says they inform the police about cow smugglers and help them in the “rescue operation”.

Punjab director general of police Suresh Arora says the security is provided to leaders of organisations based on threat perception. “The cops are for ensuring security and in case they are misused, they will be withdrawn. We would review the security provided to leaders of these outfits and make the mandate very clear,” he said.