Rejected charges of vindictiveness, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday defended the withdrawal of state police security given to party colleague and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, saying it was a “routine exercise” based on a periodic review of his threat assessment
“While the government would never deny security to any person genuinely in need, it could not afford to spare police personnel unnecessarily, particularly when the force is under severe constraints and stress amid the Covid pandemic,” Amarinder said in a statement.
The state government on Saturday had decided to withdraw state security given to Bajwa, saying he enjoys the central security cover and virtually faced no threat. The decision had come days after Bajwa and another Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Shamsher Singh Dullo, sought a CBI probe into the illegal liquor trade in the wake of the hooch tragedy that killed 121 people in three districts of the state.
Bajwa had later attacked the CM, accusing him of resorting to “hitting below the belt” and exposing his family to risk.
The CM termed as “inexplicable” Bajwa’s “attempt” to link this review with his confrontation with the state government.
Pointing out that his government was providing security to the Badals in view of the specific threat inputs indicating a threat to their security, as per the assessment carried out by central and state governments, Amarinder said Bajwa’s complaint on this account was “petty and frivolous” and not based on facts.
The CM said the high threat perception for the Badals had necessitated a complement of Punjab Police security, in addition to the Z plus security provided by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). There was no comparison between their case and that of Bajwa, who was not a categorised protectee of the Punjab government in the absence of any specific inputs indicating any threat to him from any terrorist or militant outfit operating in the country. “With Punjab Police intel showing that he was not facing any specific terrorist or militant threat, Bajwa is only entitled to the positional security cover of an MP, as provided in the State Security Policy approved by the Cabinet in 2013,” he added.
Nevertheless, the Congress MP had continued to have a security detail of 14 persons, with one escort Gypsy with driver, as on March 23, 2020, when some of the personnel were withdrawn for Covid duty. Post March 23, Bajwa continued to have six security persons and 1 escort vehicle with driver.
“On March 19, MHA decided to provide Bajwa with Z category security with CISF cover. Initially, only a small component was deployed by CISF due to Covid but this week, they took over his security in full strength, including PSOs, house protection guard and escort component. In all, the CISF has presently deployed total of 25 persons, two escort drivers and a vehicle for Bajwa, as per laid down norms for Z category protectees,” Amarinder said.
He said that the full deployment of CISF security had necessitated a review and subsequent withdrawal of the state-level security for the MP.
The CM said while his government will never deny security to any person genuinely in need, it could not afford to spare police personnel unnecessarily, particularly when the force was under severe constraints amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Amarinder pointed out that all protectees and VIPs in the state, including himself, have had to lose some of their security component as 6,500 police personnel had to be withdrawn for district and Covid duty. Their security has actually been reduced, unlike Bajwa who, in fact, now has a bigger security team than he had earlier, he added.“It is unfortunate that Bajwa has chosen to look at his security force as a symbol of prestige and birth-right, which it definitely was not,”he added.
In Punjab, security provided on basis of sycophancy: Dullo
Ludhiana: Congress Rajya Sabha member Shamsher Singh Dullo on Monday condemned the state government’s move to withdraw fellow MP Partap Singh Bajwa’s police security cover and alleged that in Punjab, it is provided on the basis of “sycophancy”.
“There is no criterion for providing security in Punjab. Security in Punjab is not provided on the basis of degree of threat but on the basis of sycophancy. Policy of pick and choose is being adopted for providing security cover,” Dullo, who is a former Punjab Congress chief, said.
He said if anything happened to him or Bajwa, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta would be responsible. “We are the whistleblowers against mafias, including sand mafia, liquor mafia and land mafia, and some of them are enjoying political patronage,” alleged Dullo.
The Punjab Congress had sought the expulsion of Bajwa and Dullo for “anti-party and anti-government activities”.
Bajwa and Dullo had targeted their party-led government over the spurious liquor tragedy that claimed 121 lives, and petitioned Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investiagtion as well as the Enforcement Directorate into the alleged “illegal” liquor trade.
– With PTI inputs
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