Creating great wall of China around himself: Opposition questions J&K Governor’s new security law for himself

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New Delhi | Published: December 10, 2018 9:17:26 AM

The Opposition points out that being a politician, Satyapal Malik was entrusted with the Governor's job with a promise of reaching out to people but new law does the exact opposite.

J&K Governor Satyapal Malik in Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Jain)

Jammu and Kashmir is set to get a new security force to protect the Governor and his family. The move has been given the go ahead by the State Administrative Council, which is headed by Governor Satyapal Malik himself.

The new security force will be different from the existing Special Security Group (SSG) that provides protection to chief ministers, former chief ministers and their families.

The new law cleared by the SAC has been met with skepticism as J&K already has the SSG which is similar to the Special Protection Group (SPG) at the Centre and provides security to the chief minister, former chief ministers and their families.

The new Jammu and Kashmir Governor’s Special Security Force Bill, 2018 says that “provisions related to the constitution and regulation of a separate security force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir for providing proximate security to the Governor, members of his immediate family and matters connected therewith.”

However, the new law is already being questioned by political leaders, who are calling it as “ironic” and seeing it as Governor’s attempt to create “a great wall of China around himself”.

At present, the J&K Governor’s security is handled by the J&K Police’s security wing which is under an SP-rank officer.

Calling it ïronic”, A R Rather, senior National Conference (NC) leader and former minister, told The Indian Express, “It seems the Governor is making laws at such a speed that isn’t possible even for an elected assembly.”

Pointing out the “absence” of an elected government in the state, Rather added, “The Governor has the power to issue an ordinance but it has to be used judiciously. An ordinance is brought in an extraordinary situation when a delay could harm the interests of the state or cause a crisis. Here, the Governor wants to change everything by introducing new laws almost daily. He is even amending the code of civil procedure.”

He further said that the administration should be focussing on creating a “conducive atmosphere” for the elections so that a popular government could take over in the state.

Comparing the new Governor with former chief of Army staff and a former chief of R&AW, who had been governors during the peak of militancy, Nayeem Akhtar, PDP leader and former minister, said, “They didn’t feel so threatened that they would make a special force for their own protection. He (Governor Malik) was sent with a promise that since he is a politician, he would go to the people and interact with them. But he has erected a great wall of China around himself.”

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However, the Advisor to the Governor, K Vijay Kumar, defended the new security law and told The Indian Express that the separate force is a “well thought-out decision”.

“I recommended it myself. There were ten men (guarding the Governor) from different districts and they were drawing salaries from different places. Some of them wouldn’t get even salaries on time. There were all sorts of complications. It wasn’t a cohesive force,’’ Kumar said.

Kumar also said that there were reasons why the Governor’s security wasn’t entrusted with the SSG.

“We didn’t want to mix it with the force protecting the CMs. There will be 160 people in this new force. We have deliberately kept only CMs and ex-CMs with the SSG… We could have expanded the SSG and tasked them with the Governor’s security as well. But that wasn’t proper, especially in J&K… the Governor and CM sharing the same security, moving up and down,’’ he said.

In the existing Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group Act, 2000, which relates to the constitution and regulation of a separate Special Security Group (SSG) in the state.

According to an official spokesperson, there is no provision for proximate security to the Governor and members of his immediate family as per the existing Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group Act, 2000.

Currently, the SSG has a sanctioned strength of 473 personnel and is overseen by an IG-level officer as director, reported the Indian Express.

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