Securing Modi

His security must be stepped up to the highest levels. SPG cover would not be too much to ask.

Written by The Indian Express | Published: October 29, 2013 4:38 am

His security must be stepped up to the highest levels. SPG cover would not be too much to ask.

Serial bombs blasted across Patna on Sunday,as the Gujarat chief minister and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate,Narendra Modi,addressed a teeming rally of tens of thousands of supporters in Gandhi Maidan. While the BJP has squarely blamed the Bihar police for security lapses before and after the incidents,for failing to cordon off the blast sites or even frisk those entering the maidan,the state police has pointed to its own constraints. Apart from the pity of six lives meaninglessly lost,security forces must consider what might have been if these attacks had been closer to the man at the centre of the event,Narendra Modi.

Modi is admired and vilified with ferocious intensity. His record as chief minister during the 2002 riots,and the perception that he is a communally divisive figure,have earned him many enemies,and he is known to be high on the hit-list of many major Islamist terror groups. As he now moves across India for his campaign,speaking in open arenas,mixing with various crowds,the Centre must factor in the high risk he faces. Modi’s security must be stepped up to the next level. He already has Z-plus security,provided by the NSG. After September,given Modi’s rise to the national arena as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate,the home ministry had furthered strengthened these arrangements,involving the state police in the areas he travelled to,and doubling the number of security persons in his inner cordon. A total of 108 NSG personnel are dedicated to his safety. But as the Patna blasts reveal,it may still be too little to secure Modi.

The campaign for the Lok Sabha election has taken on a menacing edge with this event. Earlier,Rahul Gandhi brought up the deaths of his grandmother and father,and suggested that he,too,may be killed in similar violence. The electoral campaign must be insulated from such dangers. Narendra Modi is the prime ministerial candidate of India’s leading opposition party,and he deserves the most impregnable protection the state can offer. His safety cannot be trusted to the variable standards of the police in each state he visits. The services of the Special Protection Group,which protects former and serving prime ministers and their families,would not be too much to ask,even if that requires amending the act to include this special exigency.

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