Why Z-plus security to ‘riot accused’ Sangeet Som is not at all justified

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Sangeet Som, after he was released from prison
The Home Ministry on Tuesday decided to accord Z-plus security to Sangeet Som, BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh. The MHA may have cited intelligence reports saying Som faces threat to his life but the move has sparked a massive controversy. Though Som will be provided security by CRPF personnel but only within UP, the move has given enough ammo to the opposition to condemn the Government for granting security cover to a man whose role is under question in Muzaffarnagar riots.

Who is Sangeet Som?

Sangeet Som is a BJP MLA from Saradhana assembly seat in Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh. Som is an accused in the Muzzafarnagar riots case. He had spent some time in jail after he was booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly circulating a fake video on social media that fuelled tension before the riots. He is also alleged to have made inflammatory speeches.

He was a former Samajwadi Party MP in 2009 but contested on a BJP ticket in 2012 UP assembly polls.

Who all are given security cover and on what grounds?

This latest development has once again kicked off the long pending debate that on what grounds the government decides to grant a security covers to the people. The governments in the past, irrespective of which party they belong, have from time to time invited such controversies by providing security covers to controversial persons. Since, security cover is entitled to highly important people like chief ministers, ministers of the cabinet rank, high court and Supreme Court judges and a few bureaucrats who are of national importance Som doesn't falls into such categories.

MHA could have asked UP to give police protection to Som

Hence, according Z-plus security, which ensures a cover of 36 security personnel, to an MLA obviously raises questions over Centre's move. Also, at a time when there are thousands of displaced victims of the deadly Muzaffarnagar riots, which claimed more than 60 lives, still living under appalling conditions in the relief camps, spending crores on Som's security would also dent the BJP's reputation. This might also send signals towards the victims that the Central leadership is insensitive towards them.

What the Centre could have done?

The Centre could have directed the state government in UP to provide police protection to Som and Uttar Pradesh police could have given the MLA a protection along with gunners. Wasn't that enough for an MLA? But it seems the government doesn't trust the local police administration and perceives them incapable to protect an MLA.

Looks, the government has forgotten that it is the same ‘incapable' police which have the responsibility of guarding and protecting the common man in the state, which gave the BJP maximum number of seats in the Parliament. It must not be forgotten that it is the common man who lives under a perception of threat but there is not enough security personnel to protect them.

Ensuring police protection for Som could not have invited this criticism for the government as well.

The entire process in which the decision over providing security is being taken is also unclear. The government has provided protection to Som on a mere threat perception but former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was denied any such security cover at the time he was assassinated, despite several fatal attacks on him. The then Chandrashekhar government had denied giving Rajiv Gandhi even a sub-inspector's protection.

Why this double standards by BJP?

The party had staunchly criticised the former UPA government for returning undue favours to businessmen and its trusted men by giving them Z-plus cover. The BJP was out in open when the Congress-led UPA government accorded Z-plus security to Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and now the party seems to be doing the same.

Though the government's intention to provide Sangeet Som security cover may be right but the timing and the way things were done have definitely forced the dispensation owe an explanation to the opposition.

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