PC issues fresh advisories to states over VVIPs security throughout country

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 3 2009, 03:36am hrs
Renewed intelligence inputs about possible terror attacks to the countrys top political leaders during the election campaign has compelled the Centre to issue fresh advisories asking them to avoid surprise visits and diligently follow security guidelines during electioneering.

Union home minister P Chidambaram has written to nearly 40 VVIPs including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, BJP leaders LK Advani and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi besides Farooq Abdullah and J Jayalalithaa. He has also written to state governments asking them to ensure tighter security to these VVIPs who will be traversing throughout the country to campaign for their respective parties.

Significantly, the move to issue fresh advisories comes after a powerful bomb exploded in Guwahati on Tuesday, very near to the venue of a Congress rally, minutes before external affairs minister Pranab Mukharjee was scheduled to address the meeting. In the advisories, Chidambaram has listed out the dos and donts for the state police as well as para military forces during electioneering.

Among other leaders who figure in the VVIP list include Mayawati, Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav. The letter asks the politicians to take adequate security precautions and cooperate with security forces by sharing tour programmes and movements plans well in advance.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, in particular, along with her children, have been advised not to embark on any roadshow a feature that has now come to mark the campaign style of the Gandhi family.

In previous election campaigns, all the three members of the family have made frequent unscheduled stops and mingled with supporters. While the people have instantly connected with the Gandhis thought such gestures, they are however a nightmare for the security personnel guarding them. Following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the security agencies have been trying to avoid taking any risk on the security front involving big leaders.

Intelligence reports point out that three Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were arrested in November last year by the Uttar Pradesh Police, who confessed during interrogation that they had planned to garland Rahul Gandhi with hand grenades and hold him hostage to negotiate release of nearly 40 captured terrorists.

Security drills recommended by the Centre include securing high-rise buildings and manual frisking. They have also said that all areas where top leaders attended rallies should be sanitised totally and have also advised the state governments to brief local leaders of these political parties about such security drills and ask them to cooperate with the police.