Updated: April 8, 2014 4:01:29 pm
Punjab has speeded up the process of buying a new set of luxury armoured sedans for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir thanks to revelations allegedly made by Abdul Karim Tunda.
These will be the third set of vehicles the financially stressed state will purchase for the Badals in six years. Each one of the new vehicles could cost several crores of rupees.
Suspected Lashkar bombmaker Tunda who was recently questioned by Punjab Police over his links with the Babbar Khalsa International and an RDX haul in Amritsar in 2009 has allegedly made disclosures leading to a heightened threat perception.
We are viewing Tundas disclosures seriously and the security of protectees in the state will be beefed up. The inputs on higher threat perception and efforts to revive militancy received from the Ministry of Home in the recent months cannot be ignored… Armoured vehicles have to be condemned as per Government of India policy. We are going for new vehicles for the CM and Deputy CM as the present ones have fulfilled their years in service, ADGP (Security) Dinker Gupta said.
The Badals currently travel in armoured Toyota Landcruisers bought in August 2011. The state spent nearly Rs 1.1 crore on each of these vehicles,including a bulletproofing cost of nearly Rs 30 lakh per vehicle.
The Landcruisers had replaced Mitshubishi Monteros bought in 2007,when the Akali-BJP government took over. Eight Monteros were bought,each costing Rs 34 lakh,which were then bulletproofed for Rs 22 lakh each. Sukhbir moved to these vehicles from his personal bulletproof Mitsubishi Pajero after he took over as deputy chief minister in January 2009.
The state home department is now looking at pre-armoured BMW,Audi and Mercedes Benz sedans,or high-end SUVs that would be armoured after purchase.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Guard is priced at Rs 6 crore ex-showroom in India,and comes with special protective features to withstand ballistic and firearms attacks. An armoured Audi costs Rs 5 crore in India while an armoured BMW costs between Rs 2.2 crore and Rs 3.3 crore.
The department is looking at different options,including pre-armoured vehicles but hasnt zeroed in on the final choice, ADGP Gupta said.
Chief Minister Badal already has 32 vehicles at his disposal,while Sukhbir has 19. In March 2011,the state had upgraded the Toyota Camrys of cabinet ministers to Fortuner SUVs. Chief parliamentary secretaries were allotted Altises,and MLAs Innovas.
A recent affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court by the Punjab government listed 1,294 VIP protectees,who were being provided security by 4,121 Punjab Police personnel. The police have been spending Rs 15.57 crore on average annually to protect VIPs including constitutional authorities,politicians,the SGPC chief and members,dera heads and police officers facing criminal inquiries.
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