Sunday, August 09, 2009

Providing security to netas at public expense

In the last 62 years of India;s terrorist history, except for the case of late Rajiv Gandhi, terrorists have not targetted any political figure in India. It has been the common man, the aam admi, who has been at the cross hairs..

VVIPs Security Issue : Uproar in Parliament over security to Mayawati, others
HAVING SET his own example of shunning the elaborate security allotted to him, Indian Home Minister PC Chidambaram rightly thought that now he has the moral ground to prune the disproportionate security provided to a very large number of netas and bureaucrats in India. But the whole country was taken aback by the ruckus created by supporters of these netajis in the both houses of parliament. For about two full days these insecure netas did not allow parliament to function. Finally, the government had to beat a hasty retreat and more or less abandon this well thought out action plan. The big question is that can a poor and developing country like India afford this sheer wastage of public money?

The billion strong Indian population is the most terror affected in the world today. In addition to the ongoing insurgency in seven states of the North East India and the Naxal problem affecting 180 Indian districts in 13 states, 1500 innocent India citizens died in 25 Pakistan sponsored Jehadi attacks in India since 2004. Various commissions appointed to suggest preventive measures have lamented that India has one of the world's lowest police to population ratios which has meant that beat police are almost missing from the ground. This gives rise to high crime and a lack of terror related intelligence in the country.

Despite this non-availability of police to perform even the basic policing duties for the public, 47000 Indian police personnels are provide round-the -clock security to 13000 netajis who come in the important person category (IP) in the country. This costs the country an average of Rs6 billion every year. This is in addition to the 430 very very important netajis (VVIPs), who are being provided Special Protection Group protection and National Security Guard (NSG) commando protection. Towardsr this, an additional Rs250 crores is spent annually. All at the cost of India's poor. This, in a country where 390 million people live below the poverty line.

What is even more appalling is that there are certain serving chief ministers in India who demand and get SPG and NSG commando protection. This despite the fact that these chief ministers have large police forces within their own State at their beck and call. By obtaining this Central Police protection the message they are sending to their people who have elected them in their State is that the State police can not be relied upon to protect their own CM. If so, then how will they protect the aam janta (common public)? The truth of the matter is that the Indian netaji considers this police protection as projection of his political importance. Further, in the name of security, some chief ministers are moving about in a cavalcade of 25 to 30 vehicles while others are quite happy with two to three vehicles. Bureaucrats who are ever ready to allocate some of these perks to themselves are not far behind in this misuse. Bigger the bureaucrat more the numbers of police guards at his residence.

For more than two decades, terrorists in India, espousing unacceptable causes, have blown up trains, bombed crowed markets, hijacked planes, attacked places of worship and killed and maimed large numbers. In the last sixty two years, except in the case of the late Rajiv Gandhi, terrorists have not targetted any political figure in India. It is always the common folk of India, the aam admi, who are at the cross hairs. Indians have been suffering stoically while politicians have only looked to their own protection and left the bulk of the population vulnerable due to the disproportionate allocation of limited resources.

It needs to be understood that the large number of police used as shadows and gunners by these netas are of no use to them or the organisation without regular training and motivation which they lack. The Pradhan Commission report on the state of the Mumbai police on 26/11 is a case in point. Today’s terrorists and other miscreants are highly trained and these police personnel are no match for them. It is time Indians demanded accountability from their netas. An autonomous tribunal must be set up at the Centre and the State level to asses threats to these VIPs on a regular basis. NSG and SPG protection should only be extended to the President and the Prime Minister. The chief ministers should only get their respective police protection from the State police.

The Indian constitution makes no provision for these VIPs and VVIPs to be provided with this type of individual security at public expense. In the eyes of the constitution it is the Indian public which has the right to security. Needless to say, the neta-babu security issue should be debated in the country and fresh norms should be laid down.

more >> Out-of-job netas should only be provided with police protection based on the current threat to them as assessed by tribunals. No netaji with a criminal background should be provided police protection especially when they do not hold any office. The thrust should be on providing collective security. Let the important netas and bureaucrats holding sensitive appointments stay in specific housing colonies where the whole colony gets security. This will free a lot of policemen for their basic duties.

Let private entrepreneurs open security agencies with highly trained ex-service personnel. They should be allowed suitable weapons and other gadgets for provision of security. Anybody and everybody who feels threatened may be allowed to hire their services. This practice of providing shadows and gunners to people close to a seat of power must stop forthwith. The people of India need not pay for these large numbers of politicians and others who actually do not face any more a threat than the aam admi. When the general security environment improves, the lives of our precious netas will also be safer

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