Applications asking for bodyguards are piling up at the office of SSP, East Singhbhum. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Guess what tops the must-have list of most politicians and businessmen of the steel city. No, it’s not the usual power and pelf, but a more basic requirement to keep them safe and sound in these hard times of crime and chaos — bodyguards.
Rising cases of robberies, snatchings and loots in Jamshedpur have prompted the powerful and influential to seek protection. While the businessmen are lining up at security agencies to hire private bodyguards and vying to possess licensed firearms, politicians are turning to police for security.
East Singhbhum senior superintendent of police Richard Lakra confirmed the growing trend. “A lot of people have applied for security. The applications will be put up for consideration at the district-level security committee (DLSC) meeting at the end of this month,” Lakra said.
The SSP further said it would not possible to provide bodyguards to all, considering the large number of applications received so far. “The final call will be taken by East Singhbhum deputy commissioner, who is the chairman of DLSC,” he added.
According to sources, over 400 applications are pending at the SSP’s office, most of them moved by politicians.
Private security agencies are also being flooded with similar requests from traders. Armour Group is one of them.
Rajiv Sahee, senior executive of the city-based security agency, said: “Earlier, we used to get two local clients a month on an average. But in the past few months, the demand has risen and we are receiving about a dozen calls per month. Half of these callers have even taken the service of private guards provided by us,” Sahee said, adding that they would have to augment their staff strength if they had to meet all demands.
Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI) vice-president Suresh Sonthalia, when asked, said none of their members has demanded police protection, but has sought permission to keep licensed firearms. “Over a dozen members have filed applications with SCCI, seeking licences to own firearms. We have prepared a list of such aspirants, whose applications will be shortly forwarded to the deputy commissioner’s office for approval,” Sonthalia said.
He added that traders and industrialists preferred to self-arm themselves rather than depending on police. “Police can only give assurances, but in reality, they don’t do anything except paying a lip service to their promises,” said Sonthalia.
A businessman, who did not want to be quoted, said it was not wise to move in and around the city without a bodyguard. “Criminals have a strong network and can strike any time at any place. There are a lot of precedents involving traders. It is better to keep oneself well-prepared,” said the transporter, who has hired a private guard.