`2,000 cops withdrawn from VIP protection duty`

A total of 109 vehicles used for protection duties have also been withdrawn.

Chandigarh: Nearly 2,100 policemen have been withdrawn from VIP protection duties while another 1,000 cops are set to be called back as part of the initiative to streamline the security setup, Punjab`s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Tuesday.

"In many cases, we have found that people had security far in excess than the actual threat perception to the protectee. Security for them was more of a status symbol rather than the actual threat...," Badal said at a press conference here this evening.

Among those whose security were withdrawn or downgraded include ex-MLAs, civil officers, retired cops and serving police personnel, which included as many as 630 of them, indicating that the misuse was more by the police force.

A total of 109 vehicles used for protection duties have also been withdrawn, he said.

"This is the first cut we have made. We have also identified nearly 1,000 others who either don`t need security or are having in excess. Some of those who enjoyed security are business people or realtors. We will withdraw their security immediately," Badal, who handles the Home Department, said.

Badal said security cover of some of the Z category protectees was pruned where it was found that the individual had doubled the number of cops than what was actually allowed.

With the Deputy Chief Minister is one of the heavily protected VVIPs in the country, he said he was not averse to his own security being pruned down if it was felt necessary.

Instructions have also been given to those who could have escort pilot vehicles, Badal said, adding that only DGP and ADGP rank officers will have escort vehicles.

"We have taken this step because police force`s job is policing and that should be and will be the priority. This is a major initiative as far as streamlining of the security is concerned. Let me make it clear, we are not compromising on security of an individual and it is only to prevent misuse," he said.

Punjab DGP S S Saini and other top police officers were also present at the press conference.