to Pay for Own Security?
home ministry’s move to re-look at the VIP security system
was in the news recently. Among the proposals being considered
is one to make VIPs pay for their own security, fully or partially.
It is about time this was done, is the feeling voiced across the
state security to “very important persons” whose security
is a matter of national or state concern is an accepted state
function. Remember what the nation faced when a member of her
own security outfit killed one of our prime ministers. Twenty
odd years later we are yet to come out of the aftermath and trauma
of this event. And, can we ever forget the terrorist attack on
our Parliament in Dec 2001… ?
It is true that a representative of the people whether he/she
is a member of Parliament/ assembly, chief minister or is holding
any other public office, often compromises his/her personal safety
in order to carry out the business of government. There is no
doubt that the lives of public personalities – especially
the likes of Sonia Gandhi and LK Advani, the Gandhi offspring
Priyanka and Rahul, and/or present or former prime ministers and
their near and dear ones, are often at grave risk. Many figure
on hit lists of terrorists; others have received verbal/written
threats from fringe elements, even from cranks.
fact that a public functionary’s job involves functions/
expressions and taking decisions in the public interest that cannot
possibly please both ends of the spectrum is reason enough to
render him/her potentially vulnerable – and so the need
to put in place all possible security measures to safeguard against
violent attacks. It is the duty of the state to provide such security,
as its very functioning depends on the well-being and safety of
the advent of terrorism, it is also true that even the ordinary
citizen has become security conscious. This has led to the realisation
that society’s primary security provider – the police,
are really not in a position to give protection to all people,
individually, at all times. While the police continue to be responsible
and accountable for the individual as part of the society he is
expected to protect and safeguard, the fine distinction between
the concept of “security for individuals per se” vis
a vis the overall umbrella of “collective security”
for which the police are responsible, is emerging.
biggest chunk of the ‘endangered lot’ is the lot of
politicians who have to be provided security cover not just when
in power but also after they have demitted office. Often the threat
is on account of the politician's own misdeeds (wanton or otherwise…)
or his criminal record. Security is provided on the basis of threat
perception supposedly assessed by intelligence agencies –
but this, the public feels, is often doctored to provide the VIP
higher security than he actually needs. There is also that category
for whom toting gun-wielding commandos and a VIP red light on
the hood of his armoured car is a status symbol – it adds
to his aura, again depending on what kind of proximity he enjoys
with the powers that be to get his way.
the list of VIPs extends to every sundry politician to bureaucrat,
their kith and kin and socialites and activists, the business
of “keeping important people safe” from an ever-growing
list of security-seekers is a drain on the national exchequer.
If a majority of this lot were made to pay from their pocket that
would make a more realistic assessment of the threat.
the ordinary citizen today not equally vulnerable? So why should
the state's resources be concentrated on protecting only a few
worthies at his expense? There was a time when the list of “protected
persons’ to whom Delhi Police provided security exceeded
700. Even though this list today stands clipped to 350 VIPs, about
7,200 police personnel from DP’s security unit are deployed
to protect them. Not many know that more are deputed from the
armed battalions too to meet the never-ending orders of the Home
Ministry to provide security cover to persons outside this list
of the 350 worthies provided security are classified for the type
of security to be provided – from the low grade ‘X’
to ‘Y’ class to the Z, Z+ And Z++ category depending
on the threat perception. Against this, out of Delhi Police’s
overall strength of 60,000 personnel, not more than 20000 are
deployed in police stations to protect and police 1.5 crore people
in Delhi’s 9 districts.
personnel from central para-military forces – around 2000
in number, are also deputed to Delhi Police to guard VIP residences,
in addition to the security personnel deployed. The Special Protection
Group that primarily guards the Prime Minister, former PMs and
their family members, has over the years grown from 800 in 1985
to 3,000, but statedly is insufficient to meet security demands.
In addition, the ITBP, CRPF are also hard-pressed because of VIP
duty. Crores of taxpayers' money goes into the security paraphernalia
which guards these VIPs, most of whom it is felt can afford to
pay for their security.
the highest offices in the country and those who've come under
threat in the discharge of their official duties need to be given
state security realistically. It is learnt the Centre has proposed
to create an exclusive force for VIP security. This may take care
of security for various individuals whose lives are under threat
may be able to take a huge load off other government security
agencies and thereby help concentrate on police’s main function
of preventing and detecting crime. It would be necessary to train
the proposed outfit also to deal with problems concerning VIP
security – including how to carry out their duties with
minimum disturbance or inconvenience to the public, especially
during VIP movements.
20.06.2006: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002.
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