OUR STAFF REPORTER
Guwahati, Feb 23: Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today expressed surprise as to why the Union home ministry had to review his security coverage twice within a gap of one month.
Mahanta said a review meeting of the Security Categorization Committee of the Home ministry held in December decided to retain his Z-plus security considering threat perception to his life. He said the said committee again held a meeting in January decided to give him Z-plus security minus NSG commandos.
“Now I have been provided with Z-plus security by CRPF commandos instead of NSC commandos. The development has baffled me. If the review meeting of Security Categorization Committee on December retained my Z-plus security considering the threat perception, how could it change its own decision within a month? Has security threat perception to my life was lessened within a month?,” Mahanta questioned.
The two-time chief minister who was addressing a press conference here on Thursday said he has received information that his security was reviewed in January following a letter received by the Union home ministry from former Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
Gogoi whose Z-plus security was also removed in January wrote to the Union home ministry as to why the similar security was being retained for Mahanta nearly two decades after he was removed from the post of chief minister.
Mahanta said if Gogoi’s letter was one of the reasons for review of his security arrangement in January by the Centre then why no importance was given to letters written to the Union home ministry by chief minister Sarbanda Sonowal and his ministerial colleagues Keshab Mahanta, Atul Bora to retain his Z-plus security with NSG commandos.
The Union home ministry last week submitted in Gauhati High Court that Z-plus security to Mahanta would continue but the NSG Black Cat commandos will be replaced by CRPF commandos. The ministry had asserted that the move would not affect Mahanta’s security since CRPF commandos are also competent in protecting the VVIPs.
Both Mahanta and Gogoi had termed the development as a political conspiracy by the BJP-led governments at the Centre. The Centre, however, maintained that it is in line with efforts to stop NSG, the specialised counter-terror force from performing VIP security duty.
The process to reduce VVIP security duties of the black cat commandos began in 2012 when the elite force decided to pull out about 900 commandos from the duty to train them for specialised tasks related to counter-terror and counter-hijack operations, for which NSG was origilly raised in 1984.