Security cover for VIPs close to BJP

The Centre has expanded the list of politicians being given VIP security, adding 10 names including a controversial BJP MP who had once said Nathuram Godse was a true patriot.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 18.12.16

New Delhi, Dec. 17: The Centre has expanded the list of politicians being given VIP security, adding 10 names including a controversial BJP MP who had once said Nathuram Godse was a true patriot.

Union home ministry sources said Swami Sachchidanand Hari Sakshi, better known as Sakshi Maharaj, and the nine other new entrants had been given Y-category security cover. They will be guarded by the CRPF.

In December 2014, Sakshi Maharaj, the BJP MP from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, had said Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi, was a true patriot. The MP, who has made several provocative speeches since the Narendra Modi government came to power, had earlier faced rape and murder charges.

"He will enjoy CRPF protection in both Delhi and his constituency, Unnao," a home ministry official said.

With the new additions, the total number of VIPs receiving CRPF cover has gone up to 66.

Besides Sakshi Maharaj, the other new entrants are Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, Kerala BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan, Tripura BJP boss Biplab Kumar Deb, former Kerala BJP chief P.K. Krishnadas, Kerala BJP general secretary M.T. Ramesh, Samajwadi Party MLAs Mukesh Sharma and Sribhagwan Sharma and BJP Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar Janardan Singh Sigriwal and Sushil Kumar.

A senior IPS officer at North Block said the threat perception to VIPs was reviewed periodically by the Intelligence Bureau and other security agencies.

"Based on their recommendations, the home ministry upgrades or downgrades the security cover extended to an individual and sometimes withdraws it," he said.

"Following a recent assessment, the government decided to provide security to Sakshi Maharaj as he faces threat from fundamentalist groups," the official added.

The four categories of VIP security cover are Z-plus (38 guards), Z (24 guards), Y (11 guards) and X (2 guards). The CRPF, ITBP, NSG and the CISF provide security to VIPs.

VIP security costs the exchequer nearly Rs 380 crore a year.

According to a year-wise report prepared by the home ministry, 332 VIPs were provided security in 2012, 380 in 2013, 418 in 2014, 450 in 2015 and 470 in 2016.

In August last year, the Centre had added 50 names to the list of people given VIP security.

"Those close to the BJP are now getting security cover. The same yardstick (of closeness to the political leadership) was used by the UPA while giving VIP security to politicians," a home ministry official said.

New RAW, IB chiefs

The Centre tonight appointed Anil Kumar Dhasmana, a 1981-batch Madhya Pradesh-cadre IPS officer and a Balochistan expert, as the secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing.

Rajiv Jain, a 1980-batch Jharkhand-cadre IPS officer, has been made the director of the Intelligence Bureau.

Outgoing RAW chief Rajinder Khanna and his internal intelligence counterpart, Dineshwar Sharma of the IB, are due to retire on December 31.

Both the posts carry a fixed tenure of two years from the date of joining. Dhasmana and Jain will take charge on January 1.

Sources said Dhasmana has been attached with the RAW for the past 23 years and is now special secretary in the agency. He had been posted in London, Frankfurt and Pakistan.

Jain, who is the IB special director, has served in various capacities in the agency, including on the sensitive Kashmir desk.

"The Prime Minister is the final authority in the selection of the IB and RAW chiefs. The decisions were taken considering several factors, including the political situation and the threat from inside and outside," a government source said, adding that greater coordination was expected between the two agencies.