OVER 40 city-based builders have been stripped of their security cover in the latest security audit carried out by the Mumbai Police. The step was taken after a recent audit revealed no “imminent threat perception” to these builders, The Indian Express has learnt.
Realty giants whose police protection has been withdrawn include the two sons of BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha of the Lodha group, Abhishek and Abhinandan. Also in the list are Rakesh, Dheeraj, Kapil and Sarang Wadhawan of HDIL; Vinod Goenka and Shahid Balwa of DB Realty; the Avarsekars of Unity Infraprojects Ltd and the owners of the Sethi group, to name a few.
The move will make the state exchequer richer by Rs 1 lakh per month per person that the government spends on each of them for providing police protection.
While the Wadhawans were provided security for the last four years, the others were provided protection for two-three years, sources said. Other builders stripped of police security are Gaurav Porwal, Ghulam Rassiwala, Piramals, owners of Kaanchwala Group, Sooraj Moochala, Yusuf Sheikh and Ganesh Gupta.
Meanwhile, industrialist Nusli Wadia and Mangal Prabhat Lodha are among the builders who will continue to move under police cover. “A review was done in March this year by a special committee comprising of senior police officers where a fresh assessment was done on the threat posed to builders from anti-social elements, mainly the underworld. There was an imminent threat perception to them at the time security had been extended but the latest assessment shows that threat has gone and, therefore, we have withdrawn the security,” said an official.
The protection provided to builders and Bollywood personalities is classified as “non-category security”, meaning these personalities are not provided security as specified under the X, Y, Z or Z-plus security cover categories.
“These builders were provided ‘non-categorised’ security. A ‘non-categorised’ security includes two to four armed policemen on shifts. Multiple police units vetted the threat perception and tabled a report before the committee, which then decided on whether to retain or withdraw their security. Since the input on threat to these personalities or businessmen are generated by the police, the government had to foot their security bill,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express.
“Security is also provided to private individuals on an application made by the person. It is first vetted by the local police and then by certain specialised units of the city police, including the Special Branch. The reports sent by the local police and the specialised units are then studied by the high-powered committee and, based on the threat perception, security is provided or the application is rejected. In such cases, the cost is borne by the individual,” said the officer.
In January this year, The Indian Express was the first to report that police had decided to downgrade the security of Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. The two actors had been provided security in the wake of their comments on the subject of intolerance but after a security assessment revealed no threat to them, the security was downgraded.
The step was part of a major overhaul by the Mumbai Police to nix “unwanted” security provided to Bollywood personalities. The 40 Bollywood personalities whose security has now been withdrawn include director and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director Raj Kumar Hirani, Farah Khan and producer-brothers Ali and Karim Morani. “We trimmed the list to around 15 personalities who have a genuine threat perception against them,” said a source.
The Bollywood 15 who continue to remain under security cover include actor Akshay Kumar and producers Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt. However, stalwarts like Lata Mangeshkar, Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan, who are viewed as iconic figures by police, enjoy round-the-clock security cover, which includes two constables on two shifts, a shift in-charge and a police escort. Both the escort vehicle and the constables are armed.
Other than builders, police have also clipped the security of their own men. Recently, police downgraded the security to IPS officers Rakesh Maria, K P Raghuvanshi, Suvez Haque and Himanshu Roy, among others. While Maria, Raghuvanshi and Roy were provided security as they were state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chiefs, Haque was extended security post his stint as the Superintendent of Police in Naxal-infested Gadchiroli district.