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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

cops still protect ex-President Pratibha Patil's family

Former president Pratibha Patil might have exited the high office in July, but in violation of norms her family continues to enjoy high security cover, with 18 constables and one sub-inspector. Taking note of this divergence, the Maharashtra government has thrice requested the Union home ministry for permission to withdraw the former first family's protection. On all three occasions, the Centre's response has reportedly been silence. For some time now, Maharashtra has been facing a shortage of police manpower, causing what many believe a slippage in the law and order situation. This is why clamour has been growing in the state for curtailment of the security cover bestowed on politicians. After Patil entered Rashtrapati Bhavan in June 2007, the Centre released specific directions on the security cover for her spouse Devisingh Sehkhawat, son Rajendra, daughter Jyoti, daughter-in-law Manjiri, son-in-law Jayesh, grandsons Prithvi and Druvesh, and granddaughters Saurabhi and Vedika. Devisingh was accorded Z category security cover, the son and daughter Y category protection and the other six family members X class security. "As per the directives, we presented adequate security cover to the president's family," said a high-ranking bureaucrat. Under Z category security, the beneficiary is provided three constables in each shift besides a special escort vehicle with a sub-inspector or inspector and three constables. In Y class protection, three constables are deployed in each shift, and in X category, one constable is posted in each shift. Thus, by rough calculations, the Maharashtra government allocated 18 constables and one sub-inspector for Patil's family. On Patil's retirement, as per guidelines, she was to get Z-plus security detail and, as per convention, her family's protection was to be withdrawn. The former happened. The latter did not. So, between August and December, the state government wrote thrice to the home ministry, seeking authorization to pull out the security detail provided to Patil's family. But the state got no reply. "Since the cover was provided at the instance of the Centre, we cannot withdraw it unilaterally," said the senior civil servant.

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