Punjab Police have withdrawn as many as 1800 personnel deployed in the security detail of protectees in various categories and re-deployed them in law and order and policing duties across the state.
The pruning, carried out in last couple of years, translates into around three companies of the force.
The withdrawal of the personnel has come despite tremendous pressure from politicians, retired police officers and other VIPs who continue to exercise pulls to get their security details unchanged, if not enhanced, sources in the Punjab Police said. A further slashing of security in different categories of protectees was going on based on review and fresh threat assessment.
Last month, an officer, who retired from a DGP rank post, sought “adequate security” saying “my movement is substantially restricted, and my liberties, as well as personal obligations, for my own survival, are denied to me; my family members, move around, with calculated risk, either reducing visits, or going with surprise.”
The retired officer also marked a copy of the letter to Union Home Ministry. He also griped that some functionary from local police station was sent to report on his security and threat perception.
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta, however, justified the move. “We have done multiple security reviews. The security now is being provided only based on threat perception. Yes, people do try to wield influence, but we have full support of the Chief Minister. Scores of Personal Security Officers (PSOs) who spent many years as security men for some VIPs, politicians or retired officials have been called back and deployed in policing duties.”
Gupta said, “The policemen get paid from taxpayers’ money and they are primarily for the area security. We are strictly following Ministry of Home Affairs and Supreme Court directions”.
Currently more than 7000 policemen are still deployed in the security detail of protectees in various categories.
“This is a dynamic process. Based on review and threat assessment, the number of policemen deployed in security of the protectees keep changing,” said a Punjab Police functionary.
Additional Director General of Police (Security) Varinder Kumar said the department had no issues in providing security to those who really need it. “But, the unfortunate thing is that moving with security has become a status symbol. People want to flaunt the security cover. So, we are being very particular while giving nod for security cover. We also have clear instructions that while allowing security cover, we should ensure that it is not misused for any other purpose,” he said.
“People approaching us for security cover create all sort of stories. Then there is competition as to who has got more security personnel. There are others who want black cat commandos to project an elite security cover with them,” added Kumar.