The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Star’s shield stays in place

Mumbai, Sept. 25: The Maharashtra government today denied it had scaled down Amitabh Bachchan’s security, saying the actor continued to enjoy X-category cover.

Deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, who is in charge of home affairs, said that if the actor had any complaint, the government would look into it.

Earlier, Samajwadi Party workers had staged noisy protests in Lucknow after news reports said Bachchan’s security had been downgraded. Samajwadi workers blamed the Centre and Sonia Gandhi for the alleged decision and burnt the Congress president’s effigy.

In New Delhi, Union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal said: “VIP security is a state subject and the Centre has nothing to do with it. If there is a complaint, I would look into it.”

State officials admitted, though, that some Bollywood celebrities had had their security scaled down since September 18 after Patil and his officials reviewed the cover given to 59 VIPs. Shatrughan Sinha and Dilip Kumar had their security downgraded from Z to X while Lata Mangeshkar’s fell from Y to X.

Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan has been provided non-categorised cover after the death of a security guard in an accident last month.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief K.S. Sudarshan’s security was raised from Z to the highest category, Z plus, keeping in mind the attack on the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur and the continued threat from militant groups.

The security for the former Punjab and Mumbai police chiefs, Julio Ribeiro and M.N. Singh, both of whom had led anti-terrorism operations, was scaled down from Z to X.

Patil said the decisions had freed 750 policemen for law-and-order duties, thus cutting state expenditure on security.

Government sources said that despite recommendations for a lowering of their security status, public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal, rural development minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil and Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde continued to be in the Z-plus bracket.

Z-plus security involves two escort cars — one of them bullet-proof — two personal security officers (PSOs), and one head constable and three constables at the VIP’s residence. The X category involves one PSO, one head constable and three constables; while Y security offers just one PSO.

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