J&K Is set to get a new security force — this time, to protect the Governor and his family — with the move getting the green signal from the State Administrative Council, headed by Governor Satyapal Malik himself. J&K already has the Special Security Group (SSG) on the lines of the Special Protection Group (SPG) at the Centre to provide security to the chief minister, former chief ministers and their families. The Governor’s security is currently being handled by J&K Police’s security wing under an SP-rank officer.
The new Jammu and Kashmir Governor’s Special Security Force Bill, 2018 has “provisions related to the constitution and regulation of a separate security force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir for providing proximate security to the Governor, members of his immediate family and matters connected therewith”.
However, the move by the Governor to introduce another law under his tenure — now for his own security — has been questioned by political leaders, who described it as “ironic” and an attempt to create “a great wall of China around himself”. They have also questioned the haste with which the Governor has been introducing new regulations. “It seems the Governor is making laws at such a speed that isn’t possible even for an elected assembly. It is ironic,’’ A R Rather, senior National Conference (NC) leader and former minister, told The Indian Express.
“In the absence of an elected government, the Governor has the power to issue an ordinance but it has to be used judiciously. An ordinance is brought in an extraordinary situation when a delay could harm the interests of the state or cause a crisis. Here, the Governor wants to change everything by introducing new laws almost daily. He is even amending the code of civil procedure,” Rather said.
“The Governor and his administration should focus on creating a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of elections so that a popular government takes over,” he said. On Monday, the Supreme Court is set to hear a petition challenging the Governor’s decision last month to dissolve the state assembly.
“Here, we have had a former chief of Army staff and a former chief of R&AW, who were governors during the peak of militancy. They didn’t feel so threatened that they would make a special force for their own protection. He (Governor Malik) was sent with a promise that since he is a politician, he would go to the people and interact with them. But he has erected a great wall of China around himself,’’ Nayeem Akhtar, PDP leader and former minister, said.
However, the Advisor to the Governor, K Vijay Kumar, told The Indian Express that the separate force is a “well thought-out decision”.
“I recommended it myself. There were ten men (guarding the Governor) from different districts and they were drawing salaries from different places. Some of them wouldn’t get even salaries on time. There were all sorts of complications. It wasn’t a cohesive force,’’ Kumar said.
“I was part of the SPG and have headed the SSG as well. So this concern (regarding the Governor’s security) was first raised by me not in my present capacity but as DG CRPF long ago. Later, when I came for the Madhukar Gupta committee on border security, I enquired again. When I came back (as advisor) one of the first things I did was to put this in motion,” he said.
Kumar said there is a reason why the Governor’s security wasn’t entrusted with the SSG.
“We didn’t want to mix it with the force protecting the CMs. There will be 160 people in this new force. We have deliberately kept only CMs and ex-CMs with the SSG… We could have expanded the SSG and tasked them with the Governor’s security as well. But that wasn’t proper, especially in J&K… the Governor and CM sharing the same security, moving up and down,’’ he said.
According to J&K Police sources, the special force will be headed by a DIG-level officer, with personnel stationed in Jammu, Srinagar and Delhi. The personnel will accompany the Governor during his visits to other states as well, the sources said.
In the existing Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group Act, 2000, which relates to the constitution and regulation of a separate Special Security Group (SSG) in the state, “there is no provision for providing proximate security to the Governor and members of his immediate family’’, an official spokesperson said. The SSG has a sanctioned strength of 473 personnel and is headed by an IG-level officer as director.
(With Arun Sharma in Jammu)