Ranchi, Dec. 6: State principal secretary (home) N.N. Pandey and DGP Rajeev Kumar called on an angry Shashank Shekhar Bhokta today, in response to the Speaker’s refusal to accept official bodyguards.
During a 40-minute meeting at his chamber in Vidhan Bhavan, the senior officials tried to pacify Bhokta, who has accused the state government of “violating protocol” and ignoring safety concerns by denying him police escort while he was touring various parts of the state, especially his home in Sarath of Deoghar district.
Both the DGP and the secretary, who met the Speaker on the instructions of chief minister Hemant Soren, promised the Speaker adequate security cover during his field visits.
However, they categorically denied any violation of protocol, saying there was no specific guideline in the security manual for the protection of the Assembly Speaker.
Bhokta wasn’t satisfied and sought to know from the secretary the Speaker’s “real security entitlements” at the earliest.
“They told me that security to a Speaker was provided at the state government’s discretion, and it depended on availability of forces. There is no defined rule,” Bhokta said at a news conference after the meeting.
But, if that was the case, then what was the need for him to inform police about his movements, he asked.
“I have told them that henceforth, I will not inform the police about my itinerary,” he said.
Around a week ago, Bhokta “returned” his bodyguards and house-guards to “protest” against the state machinery’s indifference towards his safety.
According to police, the state provides five guards — an ASI and four constables — to the Speaker. This is in addition to the two guards that Bhokta gets as an MLA. This apart, the state has deployed two extra guards at his residence.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Arjun Munda in his letter to Hemant said it was the state’s responsibility to provide adequate security to the Speaker, otherwise it would become a “privilege issue”.