The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rs 43-lakh shield for Buddha
• Two Tata Sierras
• Three Ambassadors
• One bullet-proof car worth Rs 20 lakh
• A deputy commissioner, especially to monitor CM's security

Calcutta, June 18: The chief minister’s security shield will be bolstered in the wake of fresh intelligence inputs on Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s threat perception.

A new Calcutta Police post of deputy commissioner (security) has been created to oversee the protection mechanism within city limits. Besides, decks have been cleared to buy five bullet-proof cars — three Ambassadors and two Tata Sierras — for Rs 22.5 lakh.

That isn’t all. The state has placed an order with Ordnance Factory, Medak, for a bullet-proof car worth Rs 20.15 lakh.

The new stitch-up of the chief minister’s security blanket would mean an expense of about Rs 43 lakh on cars alone, making it unparalleled.

If transport department insiders are to be believed, a second car would be procured from the Andhra Pradesh ordnance plant later. “We have already received four vehicles from the Special Protection Group in Delhi and the rest should follow,” said home secretary Amit Kiran Deb.

The new deputy commissioner (security) would monitor the chief minister’s security and movements, report to DC (special branch) and keep in touch with the deputy inspector-general (security) when Bhattacharjee moves beyond the city limits.

A directive from the home secretary would now ensure that a unified command is in place every time the chief minister moves out of the city. “The system would ensure Bhattacharjee’s convoy comprises a set of officers who trail him all along and not change guards with change in the jurisdiction of districts. The team would be hand picked by the DIG and be at his command,” said a source in the home department.

Intelligence agencies have been voicing concern on Bhattacharjee’s security since the run-up to the parliamentary elections, when the chief minister travelled across the state.

The threat, the agencies held, primarily lay in two fronts — the Maoist Communist Centre in north Bengal and People’s War sympathisers in the city.

Intelligence reports sent to the home secretary repeatedly harped on the crying need to bring Bhattacharjee under a blanket security and provide an alternative bullet-proof car to reduce the possibility of a successful strike.

But with four bullet-proof cars and the same number of takers — Mamata Banerjee, Subash Ghisingh and Jyoti Basu being the other three — there was little alternative.

The transport department has agreed to buy five bullet-proof cars from New Delhi that have been used but maintained well. “If engines were changed to Euro-II and some amount spent on their maintenance, the state would have bullet-proof cars as good as new,” said a transport department official.

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