If statistical figures are anything to go by, then it is quite clear that the number of people provided with police security has only increased in recent times. A reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by activist Chetan Kothari reveals that among those provided with security, the jump is highest in the high-risk category for which police personnel are allotted.
In India, the police and local government provide high-risk individuals with security detail. Depending on the threat perception to the person, the category is divided into four tiers: Z+ (highest level), Z, Y and X.
The information provided under the RTI Act revealed that although the number of VVIPs provided with protection has remained the same over the past two months, the number of individuals getting security in the Z+, Z, Y, X, OT (others) and CNS categories has shot up. The only category showing a drop is the DF (distinguished foreigners) category.
With a whopping 50% jump, figures in the Z+ and Z categories have gone from 50 in November to 75 in January. During the same period, the figures in the Y category rose from 175 to 198, X category from 39 to 86, OT from 213 to 257 and in CNS from none to 5.
“The problem is that police protection is not guided by need, but viewed as a status symbol,” said Julio Ribeiro, former city police chief.
For the city, the only saving grace is a drop in the number of police personnel allotted for the task. While 4,781 personnel were deployed in November, the number fell by 38% in December (2,955), before rising a little to 3,509 in January.
The biggest relief has come from the VVIP category. Of the 1,077 police personnel made available to them in November, the figure now stands at 285. However, this dramatic fall has been compensated for by the rise in the other categories, with Z+ having 91, Z having 30, X with 56, and CNS with 11 additional police personnel since November.
RTI activist Chetan Kothari said, “If VIPs do not set an example or drastically cut down their security, how will things change? There is too much pressure on the police. At police stations, they don’t file complaints on time and sometimes don’t even entertain anyone.”
Madhukar Pandey, additional police commissioner of police (protection), commented on the rise in numbers. “Protection is provided as per threat perception. The number or the type of security does not depend on the person. Sometimes a VVIP may not have any security at all,” he said.