From Badal’s ‘pool’ for Bhattal: Bungalow on security grounds

Her security was downgraded to ‘Y’ category recently.

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Chandigarh | Updated: April 14, 2014 2:54 pm

Her security was downgraded to ‘Y’ category recently.

Months after her security was downgraded from ‘Z’ to ‘Y’ category by the Punjab home department based on threat perception,former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has been allotted another official bungalow from Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s pool on “security” grounds.

Through a letter dated May 14,Principal Secretary,coordination,Sanjay Kumar has allotted House No. 8 in Sector 2 — the sector houses residences of Punjab and Haryana chief ministers,ministers and Leader of Opposition — to Bhattal “on security grounds provided she bears the expenses of rent,water and electricity bills”.

The said bungalow was earlier allotted to Animal Husbandry and SC Welfare Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike,who has told the government he intends to continue staying at his Sector 39 residence.

Interestingly,Bhattal has been occupying bungalow No. 46,next to Badal’s official residence,for the last 20 years. Bhattal had written to Badal requesting she be allowed to retain the house on security grounds but the Punjab and Haryana High Court had on April 27 given the state government six weeks to complete eviction proceedings against her. Among the bungalow’s many attractions are a swimming pool,dog house,gazebo and spacious office.

Through another letter written to DGP Sumedh Singh Saini,Bhattal had sought restoration of her security cover to ‘Z’ category citing high threat perception. “The home department is downgrading security cover of Opposition MLAs despite the threat perception being higher than before. I have written to the DGP to restore it but they have not done so. I will meet Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in this regard,” Bhattal said,when contacted.

On being allotted another bungalow on security grounds,she said each MLA is entitled to a accommodation in the state capital. “The allotment of houses depends upon the stature of the MLA and I have been a minister,chief minister,PCC chief and Leader of Opposition. I have yet to be intimated about allotment of another house,” she said. Incidentally,the house presently occupied by Bhattal stands allotted since March last year to Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar,who is still to get an official accommodation.

The allotment of bungalow to Bhattal comes at a time when Opposition leaders,both former and sitting Congress MLAs,are questioning the withdrawal of their security cover by the state home department. While former MLA Sukhpal Khaira in a press conference challenged the grounds of withdrawal of his security,the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently directed the home department to provide ‘Y’ category security to party’s Ferozepur MLA Parminder Singh Pinky.

In the list of those who were “denied” security despite high threat perception is former Rampura Phul MLA and Congress vice-president for Malwa zone,Gurpreet Kangar,whose constituency witnessed attack on Congress zila parishad candidate today. “Four of my supporters have been killed in the last few years and yet my security has been withdrawn. I challenged the decision in the High Court and the Punjab government had then told the court that we demand security for flaunting our stature. Now,I am a vice-president of the Punjab Congress but still I have no security,” he said.

Many Congress leaders have also met Shinde demanding their security be restored. This week,the Centre upgraded the security cover of Union Minister Manish Tewari and Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa to Z category.

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