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Basic rules of protection

VIP security must become professional. That means being less callous towards the citizenry

india Updated: Nov 04, 2009 21:50 IST

No one denies that VVIPs must be given top security. But when it comes at the cost of the common man, it becomes more than a bit annoying. The tragic case of Sumit Verma who died on Tuesday in Chandigarh after being denied medical attention reportedly due to the Prime Minister’s security cordon is an example of this kind of obstructive procedures that we have come to take for granted. We have often seen emergency hospital attention being hindered due to VIP security traffic. There is not one among us who has not suffered being stopped on the roads because of VIP traffic passing through. We are not suggesting that security to people who require protection should be done away with. All we are demanding is that VIP security gets more professional — and that includes providing the necessary cover without unnecessary hindrances to the citizens for the sake of a show of prestige.

Then there is the unwholesome spin-off of security becoming a prestige issue for people who use it as a status symbol while having little to do with actual threat perceptions. In other countries, even where there are high levels of threat towards people in high places, the visible presence of security is kept at the minimal. The point is not to go on an overdrive to show that one is well-protected — although showcasing a VIP’s safety is part of making him or her secure — but to balance security with non-intrusiveness. The reported action of the Prime Minister’s security personnel surely comes as an embarrassment to Mr Singh, the last man whose idea of the importance of his own position resides in causing obstructions to others. A magisterial inquiry into the matter is a welcome and necessary move.

Our VIPs should insist that their security personnel treat people with respect. Important ceremonies must go on but not at the expense of public convenience. The case of Sumit Verma and the Prime Minister’s Office tending an apology is perhaps the first case of a VIP in India registering regret for the inconvenience caused by a security posse. Let us use this tragic and unnecessary event to rehaul the way our security protocol works. Good security does not mean providing pointless hardships to others.