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Finally, Z to pacify Bhokta

- Speaker gets security on a par with CM

Ranchi, March 4: The Assembly Speaker will henceforth be entitled to Z category security in addition to special bodyguards and house guards, a move the state government was forced to take after present incumbent Shashank Shekhar Bhokta alleged inadequate protection.

Parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Prasad Singh informed the House today that the decision was taken at a protocol committee meeting headed by chief secretary R.S. Sharma.

Till now, on the chief minister, deputy chief ministers and Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice were getting Z category security. Now, the Speakerís post has been added to the list.

Bhokta has been unhappy over his security cover. His latest gripe was centred around his experience on Harmu Road in Ranchi on February 8. His convoy was caught in a traffic jam for around 15 minutes near Shani Temple owing to a religious procession.

Chief minister Hemant Soren's cavalcade was also supposed to pass through the same stretch. Though traffic police diverted Hemant's convoy, they did not alert Bhokta's security in-charge about the congestion. An angry Speaker confronted the capitalís SSP to express his displeasure.

In Giridih, the Speaker pulled up the district administration for not providing him an escort party in January.

Today, BJP members questioned why the Speakerís name figured after the Chief Justice in the protocol list. JVM legislature party leader Pradeep Yadav pointed out that though MLAs figured above the chief secretary in the protocol manual, officials posted in the field, especially deputy commissioners and police superintendents, gave little importance to MLAs.

Yadav also questioned whether Trinamul Congress had formally extended support to the Hemant Soren government after the induction of MLAs Bandhu Tirkey and Chamra Linda to its party fold and whether these MLAs would be tried under anti-defection law.

The Speaker promised to look into the matter.

Today, too, the JVM demanded enactment of new laws and setting up of special courts to effectively curb corruption and recover black money. But, the state remained non-committal today in the face of the chief ministerís clarification yesterday when he indicated the government was unlikely to take up such a proposal since the state already had a functioning vigilance bureau.

In reply to a question by Ichagarh MLA Arvind Singh, the parliamentary affairs minister said that welfare funds of Seraikela, Kharsawan and Ichagarh MLAs pending since 2008-09 would be released after making necessary appropriations in the first supplementary budget for the next fiscal.

The Speaker also approved formation of a special Assembly committee to probe alleged acts of omission and commission by an iron ore mining company in West Singhbhum district.