Delhi, UP Police in dilemma over Kejriwal security
With Delhi's chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal repeatedly refusing security for himself, police in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are wringing their hands in despair.
Kejriwal is set to take the oath of office at the head of an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government here Saturday, but he remains adamant on his stated decision not to accept police security. Special Commissioner of Delhi Police in charge of security J.K. Sharma said they were in touch with Kejriwal, trying to persuade him to change his mind.
"We have told him that security has to be provided to a chief minister, not to him as a person," Sharma told IANS. "We are yet to get a positive response from him."
"We know Kejriwal is a sincere man. We hope he realises our problems."
Now, Delhi Police are waiting for the Kejriwal's oath-taking ceremony to get over, and are hoping he will allow them to guard him, as the protocol demands.
Dehli Police will have to take a new strategy to provide Kejriwal security cover if he will again turn it down. Sharma said: "If Kejriwal will be adamant about not to accept security after taking oath as the Delhi chief minister, we will plan our next strategy."
But the police officer admitted that the force had not encountered such a piquant situation in the past where a VIP had refused police protection.
Official sources say if Kejriwal remains adamant, Delhi Police will end up having more men in plainclothes to guard him, instead of the fewer men who would be deployed in uniform.
Both Kejriwal and his one-year-old party have been bitterly critical of the "VIP culture" so visible in Delhi, with gun-toting security personnel constantly ringing political leaders.
Sharma says Delhi Police are not sitting idle.
"We are working on strategies on what is to be done if Kejriwal remains glued to his stand of 'no security'. We know we have to protect him as he will be the chief minister."
Kejriwal, 45, a former income tax officer whose social activism won him the Ramon Magsaysay award, lives in Kaushambi, a township in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh adjoining New Delhi, with his wife and two school-going children.
He has also refused to accept an official vehicle with its trademark red beacon light -- another symbol of VIP culture -- and uses his own small car.
Police officials are not sure if Kejriwal will continue to reside at Kaushambi and drive to the capital daily -- or take up residence in Delhi from Saturday.
Kejriwal has, however, told Delhi Police that he would keep them informed if and when he holds public meetings.
"Once we get to know about his meetings, we make suitable arrangements," said Sharma. "That part is already on."
"For now, Kejriwal's residence is outside the jurisdiction of Delhi Police," he added. "The problem now we have is what to do when he moves from one point to another since he doesn't want police to follow him."
"But we do follow his movements in Delhi. We can't give out details."
Uttar Pradesh Police are at their wits' end too.
On Wednesday, police in Ghaziabad district sent four policemen to his house at the Girnar Apartment complex. The men spent the night outside his house, only to be told by Kejriwal Thursday morning to go back.
A senior but frustrated police officer in Ghaziabad told IANS: "We find AAP leaders extremely rude. First, they don't want security, then say that if we do have to deploy policemen, they should be unarmed."
"What is the point of posting unarmed policemen to guard Kejriwal? It serves no purpose. Minus weapons, what will our men do if something were to happen?"
The officer quoted a Kejriwal aide as saying that the AAP had written to Uttar Pradesh Police, spurning offers of security. "We are yet to get the letter," the officer said.
Concerned over the state of affairs, the Ghaziabad police have informed both Delhi Police and their seniors of Uttar Pradesh Police in Lucknow that they were finding the situation difficult to handle.
"I don't want my men to get the flak if something goes wrong," said the officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 27-12-2013)