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Mantralaya beefs up anti-suicide measures

Sep 28, 2023 08:16 AM IST

The move to create the rule book has been in the works for some time now, fast-tracked after two women died by suicide at the state headquarters by consuming poison on March 27. On Tuesday a person jumped from the first floor of the building on the safety net in protest when his grievance was not addressed

MUMBAI: In his public speeches, chief minister Eknath Shinde rarely misses the opportunity to point out that “the government is for the people and we work from Mantralaya unlike someone who ran a government through Facebook” – a barb aimed at his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray.

DCP Prashant Pardeshi, who heads a 200-strong Mantralaya security team, said, “While the invisible steel wires on each floor will stave off any thought of suicide by jumping, we have also stopped entry to the terrace and frisk people before they enter.”

Ironically, the principles that drive the diwan-e-aam-like model of operation were tested on Tuesday when his own government issued a strict set of rules that ensured limited access to citizens who come to Mantralaya, to seek redressal for their problems. One of them, as reported by HT, is an embargo on carrying more than 10,000 in cash while in the building.

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The move to create the rule book has been in the works for some time now, fast-tracked after two women died by suicide at the state headquarters by consuming poison on March 27. On Tuesday a person jumped from the first floor of the building on the safety net in protest when his grievance was not addressed. He was removed by security personnel. The safety net was put some years ago, after a jail inmate had died by suicide by jumping off one of the higher floors, after he was denied commutation of sentence.

Putting the government’s order in action, on Wednesday, the public works department (PWD) tightened security by setting up steel ropes on the balconies and along the corridors. According to police records, every day 3,500 visitors come here from across the state to have their grievances addressed or other work. Many come here when their problems are not solved by local government officers. Apart from security measures inside the building, there will be a visitor’s plaza nearby where they can keep their luggage. Each floor will be colour-coded, specific time slots will be given to visitors and matching colour coded passes will be issued for them to access respective floors. The security team of Mantralaya will keep record, and erring visitors will be penalised. Vehicles entering the gates will get RFID tags. Those found on the grounds after at 6.15 pm will be physically removed by the security.

Eatables will not be allowed, to rule out options of any poisonous substance entering the premise. In fact, on Wednesday, security personnel were seen going through the tiffin boxes of even staffers.

A senior IPS officer said that suicides of two women have been a blotch on the government’s image. Additional chief secretary (home) Sujata Saunik said the rule will be enforced in 30 days. “Our building has a specific carrying capacity. The plan is meant for ease of doing business. This has to be looked at positively.”

DCP Prashant Pardeshi, who heads a 200-strong Mantralaya security team, said, “While the invisible steel wires on each floor will stave off any thought of suicide by jumping, we have also stopped entry to the terrace and frisk people before they enter.” The new restrictions have come at a time when the three-party ruling alliance is trying to shine up its public image, in the face of protesting onion traders and farmers; a stir among Maratha outfits seeking benefits of reservation and the OBC community leaders gearing up for agitation as a retort to the demand by Marathas.

Social activist Anjali Damania expressed the government’s move of tight security is not likely to fly. She said, “People travel from rural areas and when they perceive a cold shoulder from the government, they may choose to take extreme steps. Rather than this, the government must work in a way to ensure speedy resolution of their problems.”

Critiquing the new rule, state Congress chief Nana Patole said, “Brokers and middlemen have a free run in Mantralaya, but the common people are being denied entry, citing security reasons.” NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto said, “This government is afraid of suicides because their policies are anti-people. By restraining entry, they are only safeguarding themselves.”

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