The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VIP security review on Centre table

New Delhi, Nov. 21: The home ministry plans to convene a meeting with the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha chairman to come up with broad guidelines on providing cover to MPs as a first step towards expanding the scope of personal security for VIPs.

It is being suggested that the idea is to ensure that the system of providing security is not only fair but also seen to be so in a way that not only the loudest but also the most threatened receive police protection.

If push comes to shove, the government is also not averse to providing basic security to all members of the two Houses.

The United Progressive Alliance regime is clearly unwilling to take a chance as it has lost an incumbent and a former Prime Minister to security loopholes and witnessed an MP being gunned down

The meeting ' to which the leaders of Opposition are likely to be invited ' has been proposed halfway into one of the most comprehensive review of VIP security policy in recent years.

Under the existing policy, security is provided on the basis of threat perception assessed by intelligence agencies that not only considers the level of threat to the VIP but also the fallout of a likely attack.

But this principle, officials said, was not strictly followed and threat-perception reports were 'adjusted' according to the VIP's political affiliations and capacity to create nuisance.

'There are certainly instances where people who do not create a scene are not provided security cover despite threat to their lives,' an official said.

Home minister Shivraj Patil firmly believes that the government should not be counting its pennies when lives of important people are at stake. This is expected to ensure that public perception of the Centre wasting money on the security of a select few does not come in the way of a holistic review.

Patil had led the Opposition onslaught on the National Democratic Alliance regime for reducing the security cover of Phoolan Devi, the MP who was gunned down at her official house here.

'We do not consider what people think of our security arrangements when lives are lost in such a way, demoralising the people and creating a fear psychosis in their mind. Hence, the question of providing security should not be weighed in terms of money only,' he had then told the Lok Sabha.

Officials insist that the security review will also look at realistic solutions to common problems that providing security creates, especially when it is not limited to the run-of-the-mill VIP but also includes common citizens facing threats.

Providing security to people who use public conveyance or two-wheelers is one area that is being looked into. Another is the cover for VIPs when they move out of Delhi.

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