TWO WEEKS after thieves entered the Raj Bhavan premises here and made off with five sandalwood trees, Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao is set to summon Director General of Police Satish Mathur over the repeated security lapses at his Pune home. The incident took place on April 30 night. The thieves entered the Raj Bhavan garden after breaking open Gate No. 3 on Ganeshkhind Road. This is not the first time sandalwood trees on the Raj Bhavan premises have been stolen. A similar robbery took place less than two years ago. Police had then asked the Governor’s office to increase the height of the boundary walls from 10 metres to 15 metres.
Officials at the Governor’s office said Rao would soon meet Mathur to discuss security-related issues at his Pune residence. “The Governor has approved the meeting and will soon take up the matter with the DGP,” said Vasant Salunke, Comptroller of the Governor’s Household.
Pune Newsline, in a report on May 3, had highlighted the displeasure expressed by the Governor’s office with Pune
police’s neglect of Raj Bhavan security.
Until May 1, when the incident was reported, only one police constable, doing an eight-hour shift, would man the sprawling 32-acre Raj Bhavan campus, or three constables guarding the premises through 24 hours. “After the recent theft, Pune police have deployed two more constables, taking the total number of police personnel guarding the premises at night to three. It’s a good number but we are not happy as they do not patrol the premises at night and prefer to sit in their cabins,” said Salunke.
There has been no increase in police personnel during the two day shifts.
Until two years ago, three policemen would be on a shift and the curtailed manpower is being seen as a reason for the spike in thefts. An inspection carried out by the gardeners at the Governor’s residence after the May 1 incident found that the thieves tried to cut several sandalwood trees but managed to take away only five. One tree was located less than 100 metres from the main gate, where the police cabin is.
A request from the Governor’s office to strengthen the security of the premises has been pending with Pune police since 2011. Raj Bhavan, where VVIPs like the Governor, the President and Prime Minister and Lok Sabha Speaker stay while visiting Pune, is surrounded by thousands of trees, many of them sandalwood.
In another move to strengthen the premises, the Governor’s Household plans to set up a security cabin adjacent to the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), from where the suspects appear to have entered.