Chandigarh, May 28
The Punjab Police today ordered the withdrawal of security of 424 persons, including MLAs, religious leaders, dera heads and retired police officers.
Though this is the third major security-pruning exercise since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government took charge, it’s the biggest in terms of the number of VIPs losing cover. With today’s pruning, about 1,000 police personnel would be available for law and order duties.
2,000 police personnel withdrawn to date
1,000 guards withdrawn on May 28
- 10 guards withdrawn from Beas Radha Soami dera
- 9 from Dera Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Nurmahal
- 6 from Shahi Imam Mohammad Usman Ludhianvi
The earlier two security-withdrawal exercises mainly focussed on politicians. Ending VIP culture was one of the pre-poll promises of the AAP.
Officiating Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has lost three of the six guards at his disposal. Reacting angrily, he, in a video message, asked the government to withdraw the remaining three as well. “The people of Punjab are my real security,” he said.
Giani Harpreet recently hogged the limelight after he asked all Sikhs to “possess licensed weapons”.
Police sources said the security of a few persons could be restored after the Ghalughara week that marks the Operation Blue Star anniversary in June. The orders regarding the withdrawal of security also mentioned that the “measure was temporary due to law and order requirements”. Turning to the deras, the government has withdrawn 10 security men from the Dera Radha Soami Satsang in Beas. The dera had figured in news following visits by top BJP and RSS leaders in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly elections. The dera head is a close relative of a prominent Akali leader.
Nine police personnel have been withdrawn from Dera Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan in Nurmahal, besides six from Shahi Imam Mohammad Usman Ludhianvi.
The religious heads who will be without police security now include Takht Kesgarh Sahib Jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh, Dera Sachkhand Ballan chief Sant Niranjan Dass, Bhaini Sahib chief Uday Singh Namdhari and Golden Temple head granthi Giani Jagtar Singh.
Almost all retired DGPs and ADGPs have also lost their cover. Police cat-turned-cop Gurmeet Singh Pinky’s security has also been withdrawn.
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