Chandigarh, August 10:
Rejecting outright his charges of vindictiveness in the withdrawal of Pratap Singh Bajwa’s security by the Punjab Government, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said it was a routine exercise based on a periodic review of his threat assessment, as provided in the State Security Policy of 2013 after he was provided Z category security by the Centre in March this year.
While his government would never deny security to any person genuinely in need, it could not afford to spare police personnel unnecessarily, particularly when the force was under severe constraints and stress amid the Covid pandemic, said the Chief Minister.
out that his government was providing security to the Badals in view of the specific threat inputs indicating a threat to their security, as per the threat assessment carried out by Central & State governments, Captain Amarinder said Bajwa’s complaint on this account was petty and frivolous, and not based on facts.
The Chief Minister said the high threat perception for the Badals had necessitated a complement of Punjab Police security, in addition to their Z plus security provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India. There was no comparison between their case and that of Bajwa, who was not a categorised protectee of the Punjab government in the absence of any specific inputs indicating any threat to him from any terrorist or militant outfit operating in the country. With Punjab Police intel showing that he was not facing any specific terrorist or militant threat, Bajwa was only entitled to the positional security cover of an MP, as provided in the State Security Policy approved by the Cabinet in 2013, he added.
Nevertheless, said Captain Amarinder, the Congress MP had continued to have a security detail of 14 persons, with one escort Gypsy with driver, as on March 23, 2020, when some of the personnel were withdrawn for Covid duty. Post March 23, 2020, Bajwa continued to have six security persons (3 Cdo, 2 Armed Bn and 1 of Distt. ), and 1 Gypsy escort with driver.
However, on March 19, 2020, MHA decided to provide Bajwa with Z category security with CISF cover. Initially, only a small component was deployed by CISF due to Covid but this week, they took over his security in full strength, including PSOs, House Protection guard and Escort component. In all, the CISF has presently deployed total of 25 persons + 2 escort drivers and Scorpio vehicle as escort for Bajwa, as per laid down norms for Z category protectees.
Captain Amarinder said that the full deployment of CISF security had necessitated a fresh review of the present situation by the Police and the subsequent withdrawal of the state-level security for the MP, especially in view of the fact that there are no specific threat inputs indicating any threat to him from any terrorist or militant organisations active within India, on the record of the State government.
The exercise was purely a routine periodical security review of the Punjab Police, conducted in consultation with the central agency, as is regularly carried out for all protectees in view of the dynamic and changing situation, said the Chief Minister. He termed as inexplicable Bajwa’s attempt to link this review with his the confrontation with the state government, which, in fact, he had himself chosen to trigger, without any basis.
He made it clear that his government could not afford to oblige Bajwa in this matter, given that the Punjab Police was currently neck deep in handing different kinds of security and other challenges as a border state, including Covid, cross-border terrorism, dropping of weapons and drugs across the Punjab border and the liquor mafia, especially when nearly 1000 cops in the state had been affected by the Coronavirus.
Captain Amarinder pointed out that all protectees and VIPs in the state, including himself, have had to lose some of their security component as 6500 police personnel had to be withdrawn for district and Covid duty. Their security has actually been reduced, unlike Bajwa who, in fact, now has a bigger security team than he had earlier, he added. The Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that Bajwa had chosen to look at his security force as a symbol of prestige and birth-right, which it definitely was not.