SOME LIVES ARE MORE PRECIOUS THAN OTHERS
Despite the emphasis on ‘EQUALITY’ in our Constitution nowhere is it mentioned that all human lives are equally valuable. Had it said so we would not find state ‘protectees’ guarded by our elite forces at the cost of us aam aadmi who are left bhagwan bharose. Prime Minister Naendra Modi’ s public utterances did raise hopes that he really meant to eliminate VIPsm from society. Sadly he stopped short at removing beacon lights from cars.
India is among the least policed countries in the world. According to reports appearing in the media from time to time, with just one policeman for 761 persons India has fewer cops per capita. If you deduct the numbers diverted to VIP security the ratio will come down further. In contrast, there are as many as 47,557 cops protecting 14,842 VIPs across the country which comes to a ratio of three to one. If the UPA was benevolent in doling out VIP security, which is mostly seen as a status symbol, the present NDA government has been no less generous.
Roughly 400 VVIPs get different levels of security (X,Y, Z, Z+) from the central pool on the basis of their `positions’ or threat perceptions. There are close to forty in Z+ category. Forty-five personnel drawn from premier para-military agencies provide each of them and their family members round-the-clock escort and static security at their respective houses. Each one of them is provided a bulletproof car along with escort cars wherever they travel in the country. Not only this, state governments have to provide territorial security to all these VVIPs, when they visit their states. The prestige attached to the presence of commandos has a trickledown effect on these states, which have drawn their own list of VVIPs to be guarded by locally raised commandos. States have their own list of VIPs guarded by men drawn from the district police thus depleting the strength of the police stations and in turn depriving the common man of the minimal security he might have expected.
The list of ‘protectee’ VVIPs is fattening each day, In its defence the central Government says that it has constituted a committee under the Union Home Secretary to decide on who should get security and how much going entirely by threat perception. There is no transparency and consistency in the assessment to be reviewed annually. It is common knowledge that finally the decision is not bureaucratic but political. You scratch my back and I scratch your. There is a quid pro quo between the Congress and BJP to provide SPG cover to bed-ridden Atal Behari Vajpayee as a justification to do the same for Sonia Gandhi and her kin. Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, George Fernanandes and Ashok Singhal, to name only a few, have not been heard of nor seen in public for several years but their lives continue to be ‘perceived’ as threatened.
On does not mind persons holding important and sensitive positions being secured at the tax payer’s expense during their incumbency only. The public find it difficult to digest the same privilege being offered to the ‘formers’ and ‘futures’. It galls to see the likes of Laloo Yadav, Pappu Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and A Raja, enjoying X.Y, Z category despite being criminally indicted. Such high-profile security makes them into instant celebrities. By contrast there is not even one unarmed constable for people like us who, in their police career spanning decades, sent many to jail and may be some to gallows.
In this country of 1.25 billion people, only a chosen few get security. Even where threat perception is obvious and danger imminent the common man gets no help. In thousands of such cases, people are still losing their lives. Most vulnerable is our fourth estate. Attacks, often fatal, on our media persons have become too frequent. They deserve adequate personal security. The sadhwis who showed exemplary courage in complaining against Ram Rahim, the CBI DIG who painstakingly investigated the case and the judge who convicted the pseudo Baba are the real heroes and were threatened more than once. It is citizens like them who deserve to be protected.
Shouldn’t state security shrug the VVIP tag and become available to everyone?
Sudhir Kumar Jha
(The author is a former Director General of Police, Bihar and a free-lance writer.)