Chandigarh: Having been on the back foot after the brutal murder of popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala on May 29, the Punjab government on Thursday told Punjab and Haryana high court that the security cover for all the 424 VVIPs would be restored from June 7.
This reply of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab, came five days after Sidhu Moosewala, whose security cover was also pruned, was shot dead, before the bench of Justice Raj Mohan Singh. A detailed order in the matter is yet to be released.
Replying during the hearing of the petition of former minister O P Soni, one of the 424 VVIPs whose security cover was also curtailed, the state government said the step to curtail security personnel of the VVIPs was taken to make adequate police bandobust for Operation Blue Star's anniversary falling on June 6.
The high court during a previous hearing had also asked the state to bring relevant material in a sealed cover for the perusal of the court in order to see whether withdrawal or down-gradation or de-categorisation of security of beneficiaries had been done on the basis of objective data.
According to information, the court had also asked the Punjab government to submit a report in respect of the order dated May 11, 2022, being available in the public domain and relevant information as to whether the order had become public on account of any RTI information or leakage or in collusion of someone having access to the order in question be also brought on record by the adjourned date.
The counsel for Soni, Madhu Dayal, contended before the high court that the Punjab police withdrew the security cover of 184 former ministers and former MLAs on a ``pick and choose basis rather than actual threat perception’’ after the formation of the current AAP government.
He held that the withdrawal was a result of populist action being taken by the government, instead of an assessment of the actual serious threat to the lives of these persons…. Z+ category security had been provided to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, AAP Rajya Sabha member Raghav Chadha, besides others.
Dayal further held that a bare perusal of a report showed that the protectees’ list was ``more politically motivated rather than on the basis of threat perception’’.
After Thursday’s court proceedings, the BJP launched a scathing attack on AAP and its national convenor Arvind Kejriwal who, it held, often touted as a prominent anti-corruption party, had now taken a U-turn since it had cited ending VIP culture as the reason behind curtailing security for a large number of people in the border state.