Security Escorts & Self-styled VIPs
Seram Neken *
Security vehicles drive past the Uttra Shanglen inside Kangla :: Pix - TSE
One is provided security cover when one becomes an important public figure due to one's status or position. Sometimes, persons who have perceived threats to their lives are also given security guards by the state. Hence, it should be kept in mind that all those who get security cover are not always VIPs.
"Every one has a fundamental right to use a public road. Why should those cars with 'red lights' get precedence over others? Indiscriminate use of power in placing VIPs in a high dignitary category results in abuse of power. Positional security or security due to threat perception becomes a symbol of power. If power is misused, it runs riot on ordinary citizens."- observed Justice Singhvi of Supreme Court of India saying, "If streets are unsafe, then it has to be unsafe for the Secretary of the State also".
The Supreme Court has recently observed that an indiscriminate exercise in providing security to VIPs resulted in abuse of power. The apex court has asked the Centre, States and Union territories for details of the security provided to family members of the VIP/VVIPs, including those with a criminal background. Such an attention by the apex court is really relevant in Manipur state where a large number of seemingly unimportant individuals are provided security guards by the state.
VOICE OF THE WEEK
VIP security culture has cost a huge sum out of the national exchequer. Security cover is provided not only to the VVIPs/VIPs, but also a number of their family members. In Manipur too, we find a good number of government officials, politicians, and near & dear ones of powerful persons who are provided security guards by the State Home Department. It is time to review and minimize the personal security arrangements provided to the so-called important individuals of the state and to pay more attention to public safety.
Personal security provision is entitled to persons of various categories. Apart from VIPs and VVIPs, persons who have perceived threats to their lives are also required to be protected with security cover. Very Important Person (VIP) is a person who is accorded special privileges due to his or her status or importance. Heads of state, Heads of government, major employers, politicians, high-level corporate officers, big celebrities or any other notable person who receives special treatment for some reason.
In Manipur, in the name of bad law and order situation, a big number of government officers and private individuals are given personal security cover in an apparently excessive proportion. However, it has to be pondered that a huge part of state budget is spent in salaries and maintenance of state forces which are utilized as security guards.
During elections, candidates are obviously provided security guards for smooth conduct of the polls. Those elected become people's representatives who may further need personal security guards to enable them to work for the people. And security cover is normally lifted from those defeated candidates. But here, a number of candidates still continue to take armed security out of state exchequer.
Do they really fulfill the criteria of entitling security cover by the state government? Moreover, a number of officers in both state and central government departments in Manipur move around with uniformed security guards. Although the circumstances may well be justified on grounds of grave law and order situation, it costs heavily on public money.
To some people, armed security guards have become a fashion and a symbol of power. Often, we hear of security guards of such people indulging in assaults, firings and crimes against the society. It can not be wholly ruled out that some individuals also stealthily utilize their security guards to execute antisocial activities. Some persons perceive themselves to be in very important and powerful positions, while remaining surrounded with armed security. Their vehicles ride fast and override the public commuters.
Their vehicles park indiscriminately wherever they wish without any regard to parking provisions. Roads in the city are flooded with vehicles of security forces allotted to private individuals. Too many security vehicles adds to traffic congestion and parking overload. At times, they create public nuisance. Many times, those people under security cover trouble the public by misusing their guards at personal whims.
The large chunk of state force which is utilized as personal security guards of individuals may be used in protecting the public lives, public properties and public places.
Security seems tightened in the city wherever any VIP turns up, and as soon as the VIP leaves, everything is laid unattended. Public safety rather than safety of a few individuals is the priority in democratic convention. The state government need to review the armed security arrangements allotted to private individuals.
* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao as part of 'The Voiceless Speaks'
This article was posted on February 22 2013 .
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