Punjab cops guard religious leaders, industrialists...

Around 1,900 personnel of the Punjab Police are providing security to 740 individuals who are not government officials. These include businessmen, industrialists and religious leaders. Many of them, like Ponty Chadha, are living outside the state. However, all of them have sought security on the basis of local addresses. In most cases, the procedure involves the police assessing the threat perception, and deploying personnel accordingly at no charge to the beneficiary.

A few months ago Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also Punjab's Home Minister, asked the police to withdraw 3,200 personnel from VVIP security.

As a result, now 5,500 policemen have been deployed to guard more than 350 'official VVIPs'.

These include Z-plus category VVIPs like Governor Shivraj Patil, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir, former CM Amarinder Singh, Revenue Minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia, DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, Anti Terrorist Front chairman M S Bitta.

Ponty Chadha's family was provided with 11 gunmen. The other beneficiaries include Haryana's Chautala family, Anurag Thakur, who is an MP and son of Himachal Pradesh CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan chief Ashutosh Maharaj, Radha Soami Satsang Dera Beas chief Baba Gurinder Singh, one of the family members owning the Sonalika Group, president of Delhi unit of SAD(B) Manjeet Singh GK, Akali leader Avtar Singh Hit, former MLAs, constituency incharges of the SAD, BJP, Shiv Sena, a few industrialists from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, and some journalists.

"All these 'VVIPs' have been given security on the basis of threat perception,'' said a police official. Besides, Cabinet Ministers and ministers of state rank have also been provided police protection.

These include Kamal Oswal, the managing director of Nahar Industrial Enterprises who is the Industrial Adviser of Punjab government in rank of Cabinet minister, all the four chairmen and four vice-chairmen of the industry and traders advisory boards, Chairman of Punjab Youth Development Board Gurpreet Singh Raju Khanna, and former state BJP president Rajinder Bhandari, who is also Vice-Chairman of Punjab Planning Board with Cabinet rank.

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