122 ex-ministers, MLAs stripped of security cover in Punjab
Prominent among those who lost their security cover are former ministers Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Manpreet Singh Badal, Raj Kumar Verka, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Brahm Mohindra, Sangat Singh Gilzian and former speaker Rana KP Singh
A day after Punjab CM-designate Bhagwant Mann met the state director general of police and chief secretary, Punjab Police on Friday withdrew security cover of 122 politicians, including former Congress ministers, MLAs and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders.
However, personnel deployed on specific orders of the courts will not be withdrawn, the letter by additional director general of police (security) Sharad Satya Chauhan dated March 11, to police commissioners, senior superintendents of police and other senior police officers mentioned.
Prominent among those who stand to lose their security cover are former ministers Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Manpreet Singh Badal, Raj Kumar Verka, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Brahm Mohindra, Sangat Singh Gilzian and former speaker Rana KP Singh.
Former transport minister Warring, who won from Gidderbaha, is being guarded by 21 commandoes, former finance minister Manpreet, who lost from Bathinda Urban seat, is being protected by 19 security personnel while Ashu is guarded by 16 of them, according to Punjab Police. Another low-profile minister of the previous government, Pargat Singh, has 17 cops in his security.
Brahm Mohindra has 14 personnel in his security, Sangat Singh Gilzian and Randeep Nabha 15 each, Sukhwinder Sarkaria, Aruna Chaudhary, Rana Gurjeet Singh and Tript Rajinder Bajwa 14 each. All 14 gunmen of Rana KP Singh have also been withdrawn.
Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, will also lose her security cover. She is being protected by seven personnel. Sukhjinder Randhawa is the only former minister whose name doesn’t find mention in the orders.
Former minister who have managed to win their respective seats in the polls have been left with two security guards as of now, it is learnt. The list also includes names of those Congress MLAs who managed to win from their seats this time too but would no longer be ministers.
The security cover of AAP MLAs in the previous assembly who have left the party or have joined the other parties, including Kanwar Sandhu, Jagtar Singh Jagga Hissowal, Amarjit Singh Sandoa and Harvinder Singh Phoolka, has also been withdrawn. Most of them were having two to three gunmen each.
Prominent among the BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal leaders, who will lose their security cover are Daljit Singh Cheema, Tota Singh, Sikandar Singh Maluka, Chunni Lal Bhaga, Manoranjan Kalia, Anil Joshi, Dinesh Babbu Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, and former MLAs Sharanjit Dhillon and Pawan Kumar Tinu and former chief of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and ex-MLA Gobind Singh Longowal.
Lok Insaaf Party’s Bains brothers -- Simarjit Bains and Balwinder Bains -- will also lose their security cover.
Senior police officials privy to the developments said the security personnel were withdrawn as per verbal discussion between the CM-designate and the DGP. It would be interesting to see if the new government would continue giving such “extraordinary” security cover to its ministers too.
Similar exercise of removing of the security cover was done by the Captain Amarinder Singh government when it took over the reins in Punjab in 2017 on the name of curtailing the VIP status of the political leaders. However, within a few days, hefty security cover was provided to Congress leaders and MLAs.
A senior Punjab Police functionary said the number of cops included in the security cover as mentioned in the orders were the legal cover given to these ministers. “It’s a harsh reality that a few ministers were having 40 cops deployed with them that include personnel attached with them by the local police,” the official said.
Mentioning that the personnel deployed on specific court orders will remain, the letter stated: “In case any fresh, specific input regarding threat to a protectee is available with the local police, prior clearance may be obtained from ADGP/security, Punjab, before withdrawal of security.”