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Police escorts-status symbol
Correspondent Kohima, Feb 15 (NPN):
Published on 16 Feb. 2009 1:30 AM IST
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Having armed bodyguard(s) or traveling about with police escorts (protection) is considered a status symbol reserved for a few elite of society but at the cost of the public exchequer.According to documents available, a fleet of about 164 police vehicles along with drivers apart from about a battalion strength of armed police are attached with and engaged purely for VIPs and VVIPs (including self styled) duties in the state costing the department and the state exchequer dearly. This is in addition to the official cars and other departmental vehicles used by the VIPs and VVIPs. Sources in the police department revealed that the department is spending about Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh monthly on POL (fuel) on the fleet of police vehicles (mostly Gypsi) attached and engaged for VIP and VVIPs duties alone. Providing bodyguards and police vehicle escorts for protection of the life of the citizens is purely done on threat perception on the citizens or the VIPs, which is decided by a threat committee with its members consisting of senior police officials. But the prevailing scenario has cast a serious doubt on the authenticity of the real threat posed to the VVIPs and VIPs in the state. By practice, the threat perception of the Governor and Chief Minister of the state are categorized as Z-plus or the highest threat perception. However, the threat perception of the other VIPs is decided by the threat perception committee. As per the official document, altogether 10 police vehicles (Gypsy King) are attached with the Governor for duties, seven vehicles, including two bullet proof ones, with the Chief Minister, three vehicles each with the Speaker, Home Minister and former Opposition leader and MLA I Imkong, two vehicles each with the 10 Cabinet ministers and Opposition Leader. Similarly, two police vehicles each are attached with five Parliamentary Secretaries and Chief Secretary while one vehicle each is attached with the rest of parliamentary secretaries, other political appointees and many of the top bureaucrats besides other VIPs including some former ministers and MLAs. Apart from the attached vehicles, the state police is providing additional vehicles through its pool (reserved) to the VVIPs and VIPs as and when required. Interestingly, the state also has an additional special guest in the list of the VIPs, the Vice Chancellor of Nagaland University, under the state police protection. Thanks to the continuous turmoil in the only university in the state as it has given an opportunity for every successive Vice Chancellor to be the only Vice Chancellor in the country to taste the blanket armed security. Despite the state having one of the highest police manpower ratio against the population of the state, the huge manpower and fleet of vehicles deployed purely for the VVIPs and VIPs duties continue to clip the effective deployment of the state police. Apart from the heavy deployment of the force along with the VIPs and VVIPs, the state police also has to provide general security wherever the VIPs and VVIPs visit, badly affecting the normal functioning of the police stations in crime prevention and investigations. The huge fleet of police vehicles attached with the VIPs and VVIPs also often result in “big headache” for the department at the time of fuel crisis as these vehicles need to be fuelled to perform their duties.

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