Modi wants his security cut to size after Delhi Police constable’s blunt response
The honest-and brave-reply of a Delhi Police Constable has prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office to re-evaluate the deployment of nearly 500 security personnel during his movement in the Capital.
This trigger was pulled on October 2 during the launch of the Swachh Bharat campaign when Modi had picked up a broom to sweep the parking area of Mandir Marg Police Station in the Capital. As Modi interacted with the police personnel present, he asked them why they did not keep their workplace clean.
What followed was not the usual embarrassed silence, but a clear, if slightly impertinent, reply from Constable Ram Kumar (name changed). Kumar told Modi the police station was not clean because “a majority of them (policemen) remained occupied with his security route and they just didn’t have the time for anything else”.
Ram Kumar had his moment, and Modi left for Rajghat soon after. The remark must have struck home, because the deployment of 50-odd policemen at just one barricade on Tees January Marg where incoming traffic had also been stopped was one of the examples that came up later in the PMO’s talks with the Delhi Police.
“On October 3, a new set of guidelines for the security arrangements came from the PMO which clearly asked the Delhi Police to deploy only the required number of personnel for the prime minister’s security instead of turning the city into a fortress,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Police Headquarters is now abuzz with talk of “trimming down” security deployment on VIP routes, with “no suffering for citizens when Modi is on the move” the latest catchphrase.
The security trimdown initiative comes in wake of the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the United States, where the President often mingles with regular citizens without security paraphernalia getting in the way.
The US tour, and Modi’s firsthand experience there, itself came on the heels of few VIP movements events that caused great inconvenience to members of the public. These include the Prime Minister’s visit to a hospital in Saket to visit a post-surgery recuperating Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Traffic movement in South Delhi was disrupted for hours that day as the VVIP visit led to the closure of certain routes. Hospital authorities said Modi was with Jaitley for nearly 45 minutes and left around 10.30 pm.
The removal by police crane of a car with the woman who owned it sitting inside during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping had also generated a new talking points, and was seen as an adverse development.
“In their new directions, the PMO has also asked the Delhi Police not to restrict traffic movement on the opposite carriageway so as to cause minimum inconvenience to the commuters by the PM’s convoy,” the senior police officer added.
The security arrangements on routes taken by the Prime Minister were changed after Modi took over. The police would earlier earmark just one route for the Prime Minister, but have started using two routes now.
This has been done in consonance with the heightened threat perception. “We carry out a dummy exercise and the entire routine is followed while the PM is safely taken using another route.
It’s only at the last moment that the route to be taken is decided so as to maintain secrecy about his movements,” another police officer said.
Mail Today reported on July 29 that around 450 high-quality closed circuit cameras will be installed along these routes. The PM Security Wing of Delhi Police will be responsible for monitoring these roads.
Around ’12 specified daily routes’ of the Prime Minister will be under constant watch by the police, they added. “The security agencies have received multiple alerts from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about possible threats to Modi from the Indian Mujahideen and other fundamentalist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir,” a top Delhi Police officer told Mail Today.
Sources said: “12 specified daily routes” of the PM that are frequently used include Prime Minister’s residence (7 Race Course Road) to the airport; to BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road; to prime minister’s office in Raisina Hill; to Vigyan Bhawan; to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Delhi office at Keshav Kunj; to Rajghat; to Parliament; and to Rashtrapati Bhavan.”
Sources said that recently a special team was formed under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner of Police (Chanakyapuri sub-division) Sukhraj Katewa to identify the spots where CCTV cameras have to be installed.
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