Citing shortcoming in security arrangements for Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee at the August 9 rally in the Maoist hotbed of Lalgarh,a worried Ministry of Home Affairs has written to the West Bengal Chief Secretary,asking the state government to deploy a dedicated security team for Banerjee under a senior police officer to ensure proper coordination of security arrangements with the RPF.
The RPF or Railway Protection Force was used for security arrangements at the Lalgarh rally without keeping the Centre and the state government in the loop.
Pointing out that a number of vehicles carrying RPF personnel,including two IGs,were also part of the Railway Ministers motorcade,the MHA said: One vehicle of RPF personnel was also positioned between escort car-2 and tail car of the VIP convoy. Two IG rank officers of RPF were found present in the sterile zone. The presence of additional manpower and vehicles belonging to RPF in the VIP convoy made the motorcade unduly long and unmanageable,which could lead to serious consequences in the event of any contingency.
The MHA said there was non-compliance of recommendations and decisions taken earlier reportedly at the instance of organisers/ party workers of Trinamool Congress in critical areas,such as separate route for the protectee and limiting number of persons on the dais.
Banerjee,the MHA said,decided to leave the meeting venue only after the departure of the public. Her convoy was,therefore,held up at places due to spillover of the crowd on the road and the resultant congestion and traffic jam on the route… During the return journey,the VIP made an unscheduled stopover at a roadside eatery at Kolaghat crossing where a truck dashed against Escort-1 of the carcade,which in turn hit the VIP car, the MHA letter stated.
Other security considerations red-flagged by the MHA include the fact that Banerjee uses a private non-BP (bulletproof) vehicle despite one being kept in readiness for her,that her vehicle is driven by a driver who is neither from the police nor security trained. Even when she is in Delhi,Banerjee travels in the personal car of her Special Officer Ratan Mukherjee who drives it himself.
The Centre is also concerned that Banerjee does not want her Private Security Officers (PSOs) in uniform and that both the PSOs have to perform their duty in plainclothes.
As a Z+ category protectee in West Bengal,the responsibility for making the necessary security arrangements and providing the full complement of security to her rests with the state government, the MHA said.
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