Monday, July 06, 2009

Two state ministers seek security upgrade

6 Jul 2009, 0114 hrs IST, Yogesh Naik, TNN

MUMBAI: Two ministers of state for home have asked for upgradation of security saying there is a threat to their lives.

Minister of state for home (urban) Naseem Khan and minister of state (rural) Nitin Raut had been constantly pressurising home minister Jayant Patil for a security upgrade. Both have demanded that their security be upgraded from Y category to Z category where a host of security measures are provided.

Khan told TOI, "I feel security should be increased. There is a terror threat and also an invisible one from Naxals to my life.''

Raut also maintains that he has taken on Naxalites and hence requires additional security. "Besides, I am fighting casteist forces who have unleashed a reign of terror on the oppressed classes. The upper classes are targeting me. I want my security to be upgraded to Z,'' Raut said. "In a few cases earlier, they had provided ministers of state with protection, so why should we be left out?'' he added.

The city and the state police have not decided on their requests. At present, the file is with home minister Jayant Patil. As a home minister, Patil has Z security.

Former IPS officer Y P Singh said, "Z category security is a status symbol. These ministers of state can show voters and others that they are important people and pose as senior cabinet ministers. It seems that they do not have security concerns. Their security must not be enhanced, especially when the polls are near.''

Police sources said the Congress government had given protection to Kripashankar Singh while he was minister of state for home. This protection continued after he was dropped in 2004. "He continues to have a Gypsy-load of policemen even though there is no threat to him now,'' said a senior police officer.

According to the police, several ministers in the state have police protection even though there is no threat to them. Former deputy chief minister R R Patil came down heavily on this but his proposal to reduce police cover was met with stiff resistance.

A deputy commissioner with the Mumbai police said, "If ministers are not feeling safe, then god save the common people.''

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