Reviewing the Yellow Book

The Yellow Book also provides for a periodic review of state protectees by state and Central agencies. The idea was to keep the number of persons enjoying state protection to a minimum, strictly in conformity with the level of threat faced by each. Such meetings, I am sure, are being held, and the exercise is being gone through mostly at a professional level. But the final orders in such matters are issued by the respective home departments, which continue to merrily add to the lists at the bidding of their political masters.

Our approach to VIP security also needs to shift from a numerical to a qualitative response. Instead of a large posse of over-visible Black Cat commandos and the like surrounding the protected persons, only plain clothes PSOs with concealed small arms should be deployed. More emphasis needs to be laid on creating clusters of secure locations, rather than on providing security on an individual basis. Here, the government will have to overcome the resistance likely to be encountered from large sections of our leadership, which unfortunately sees the number of armed commandos/policemen surrounding them at public functions as a status symbol.

In many countries, the arrangements are made in a much less obtrusive manner and designed to cause minimum inconvenience to other road users. In London and New York, the stopping of traffic is momentary, managed dexterously by leap-frogging motorcycle police outriders. But will this work in the chaotic traffic conditions on the roads of our national capital?

While the legislative leadership continued to swell the number of protected persons, the higher judiciary did not help. Sometime in the mid-1990s, the members of our apex court passed a resolution that the government should provide adequate security to each one of them. Instead of explaining to the higher judiciary that security is provided on the basis of threat assessment and that such a step would lead to a depletion in the strength of the capital's police force to the detriment of the law and order situation, the government gave in and decided to provide Y category security to all sitting judges of the Supreme Court, whether they faced a threat from terrorists or not. The higher judiciary having shown the way, the lower judiciary followed suit.

... contd.

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