People at risk but hundreds of crores to protect netas
3 Dec 2008, 0731 hrs IST, TIMES INTERNET NETWORK
While they seem unable to protect ordinary people from terrorist attacks, politicians, cutting across party lines, spend hundreds of crores of tax-payers' money to protect themselves.
Some of them may be at genuine risk, but there are numerous politicians who surround themselves with gun-toting commandos to flaunt their `status' and end up harassing ordinary people by blocking traffic and pushing vehicles off the road.
Over Rs 250 crore is spent on VIP protection — including VIPs like Deve Gowda, Amar Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sajjan Kumar, B L Joshi, R L Bhatia, Sharad Yadav, Rameshwar Thakur, E Ahmad, Murli Manohar Joshi, Brij Bhushan Sharan and Pramod Tiwari. Most of these worthies are said to be facing little real risk. It's also questionable whether lakhs of rupees should be spent on the protection of some others, like Sajjan Kumar, who have murder cases against them.
The explosion of VIP security has led to a ridiculous situation in which commandos meant for anti-terror operations have been diverted to protect politicians. The NSG, set up in 1984 for anti-hijack and anti-terror operations, has two wings--the Special Action Group (SAG), comprising army personnel on deputation, and the Special Rangers Group (SRG), comprising personnel from the ITBP, CISF, CRPF, BSF and SSB. More than half of SRG has been diverted to VIP security.
This is in addition to the Special Protection Group (SPG) that is exclusively meant for providing security to the PM, former PMs and members of the Gandhi family. Interestingly, the SPG budget for 2008-09 is Rs 180 crore, up from Rs 117 crore the previous year, while the 2008-09 budget for NSG, which is meant to protect over a billion people from terror, is Rs 158 crore, down from Rs 159 crore crore the previous year.