Punjab on Friday cut down on VIP security, including that of the chief minister, by a whopping 2,000 personnel and decided to deploy them to ensure better policing and improve the law-and-order situation in the state. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also directed the police to review the arms and ammunition licences to check unbridled proliferation of arms in the hands of criminals.
The decision was taken at a high-level security review meeting chaired by Amarinder and attended by Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Suresh Arora and Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Dinkar Gupta, besides Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar. The withdrawal of security also includes pruning of the chief minister’s security from 1,392 to 1,016 personnel. Some 1,500-odd security personnel have been withdrawn in other categories of constitutional and government functionaries, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.
The chief minister has already ordered withdrawal of all deployment along his travel routes and his security is likely to be cut down further at the next review meeting, based on fresh reports on threat perceptions.
Amarinder has made it clear that he does not want security beyond the “bare necessity”. He has also directed the police and other agencies to review the existing security policy, which was approved by the Punjab cabinet and subsequently notified by the Department of Home Affairs and Justice in 2013.
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The chief minister underlined the need to provide only “need-based” security, taking the latest threat perception for individuals into account. With the existing security policy being three-year-old, he directed the police to call for fresh reports from the state and central agencies to map the threat perceptions of individuals who have been provided security and then decide on the quantum of security. This was the second security review meeting of the Amarinder-led Congress government since it took over the reins of Punjab last month.
At the first meeting in March of a committee headed by the DGP (Law-and-Order), as many as 749 police and paramilitary personnel were withdrawn from various categories of protectees. The Congress manifesto for the Punjab Assembly polls had clearly stated that the “unhealthy” trend of the use of policemen by politicians and bureaucrats for their personal security will be discouraged strongly.
Amarinder expressed grave concern at the threat posed to internal security as a result of arms proliferation, which had led to several incidents of law-and-order violation in the state. He ordered a comprehensive review of all the arms licences issued by district magistrates and police commissionerates.
Amarinder also directed a propriety audit of the arms licences issued after the notification of the Arms Rules, 2016, which came into effect from July 15, 2016. Verification of antecedents of licence-holders, where needed, would also be done, said a government spokesperson.
The move, aimed at ensuring strict compliance under the provisions of the Arms Act, 1959 and the Arms Rules, 2016, will help control the “lawlessness” in the state “as a result of armed gangs enjoying a free run under the previous SAD-BJP regime”, he added. The DGP has gone on record stating that 57 criminal gangs are active in the state and several incidents of gang wars, jailbreaks and killings have been reported in the recent months, causing serious concern to the Congress government in Punjab, said the spokesperson.