The union home ministry has sanctioned VIP security for Aniruddha Bahal, editor of Cobrapost, the news portal that, along with
Bahal, who has carried out sting operations on a range of politicians and institutions, will be provided ‘Y’ category security, which means he will be protected by 11 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. He will not be entitled to an official vehicle.
Among several other people who have been provided security is the MoS in the department of personnel and training, V Narayanasamy, and some Muslim leaders thought to be facing a threat from the Indian Mujahideen.
Narayanasamy, under whose car a pipe bomb was found in Puducherry last month, will get ‘Z plus’ security from the CRPF. The minister’s entire family, including his son N Somasundaram, daughter-in-law Yamuna and daughter Vijaya Kumari too have been given VIP security.
Islamic scholars Mahmood Madani and Maulana Syed Kalbe Sadiq too have been brought under ‘Z plus’ cover. Maulana Sadiq has been under attack for his efforts to spread modern education among Muslims. Alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Asadullah Akhtar, who was arrested along with Yasin Bhatkal last year, has apparently told his interrogators that both leaders were on the IM’s hit list.
Bahal said he had told the government that he was getting threats following the publication of his investigations, including the one against Amit Shah.
“After we did a series of exposes including the one involving Amit Shah, and the social media one, [The report alleged that IT companies were manipulating social media campaigns by buying fake Facebook likes and followers on Twitter, and running negative campaigns against rivals of their clients.] I started getting a lot of threat calls and inflammatory messages. I complained to the concerned authorities, the threat analysis must have been done, and I was given the security,” Bahal said.
The beneficiaries of VIP security are chosen by a committee comprising the home minister, home secretary, and officials of the Intelligence Bureau. Security is sometimes provided on the recommendation of state governments.
The CRPF has, meanwhile, written to the home ministry, protesting the decision to burden the force — whose main job is to fight Maoists — with the responsibility of protecting VIPs. The CRPF currently protects 30 individuals; 44 others are protected by the CISF, 17 by the NSG and 12 by ITBP. At least 20-25 personnel are deployed for a ‘Z plus’ protectee at any time.
VIPs have been clamouring for CRPF cover ever since RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani was put in the list of those protected by the force. The home ministry is currently reviewing security for political leaders ahead of the general elections.
“There is a genuine security threat to some, while some others only seek a status symbol. Many have been given security by multiple central police forces. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh is an NSG protectee, but also has CRPF cover. Same is the case with former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad,” a senior official said.
There has been no security upgrade for M K Stalin, as sought by the DMK. Stalin gets ‘Z’ security in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu from the CRPF. Mohammed Naeem, who was handpicked by Priyanka Gandhi to contest assembly polls from Amethi in UP in 2012, has been given ‘Y’ category security. Naeem lost by a small margin.