Mumbai: Police protection could leave VIPs more exposed

Cops guarding VIPs have now been instructed to post regular location updates on a WhatsApp group

VIPs should feel safer with police protection, but are instead feeling more exposed because of a controversial move by Mumbai Police. After a recent diktat from the Protection Branch, all cops on escort duty now have to post regular updates on a WhatsApp group about the location of the VIP they are guarding.

Politicians, Bollywood celebrities, builders and other personalities fear that they can now be tracked down and targeted more easily thanks to the very cops who are supposed to protect them. However, the police argue that this will improve security. “The use of technology will help us to have better movement, coordination and security arrangements,” said an inspector.

Not happy
However, the move has not gone down well with many of those who have been provided police security. Congress MLA Amin Patel said, “The idea to use technology for collating information is good. But, on WhatsApp, the information can be accessed by several people. I personally feel that instead of enhancing security, this new system sharing information will pose a security threat.”

On the other hand, city BJP president Ashish Shelar stated that he had no issue with his whereabouts being shared in the police department. “There is nothing wrong in the use of technology. But if any one has an issue with the system, he or she should approach the Home department so that their concerns can be addressed,” he added. However, another BJP MLA from the city opposed the move and echoed Patel’s sentiment that sharing location details would only leave them more vulnerable.

When contacted, DCP (Protection Branch) VM Rathod said, “I would not like to make any comment on the issue as it is an internal, security-related issue.”

 

Security detail
>> Security provided to politicians is categorised as X, Y Z or Z plus

>> For instance, the CM get Z+ security, with over two dozen cops on his security detail, along with a bullet-proof vehicle. MLAs get one or two guards for round-the-clock protection

>> Protection provided to builders and Bollywood personalities is classified as ‘non-category security’

>> The diktat will apply to both category and non-category protection

'Actors need privacy'
Some top Bollywood actors with police protection choose not to comment on the matter. However, Mahesh Bhatt said he personally does not have any problem with the new arrangement. “I have been given police cover, but my life is an open book, so sharing details about my movements does not affect me,” Bhatt told mid-day. “They are free to gaze into any aspect of my personal or professional life. Having said that, there are other industry folk who value their privacy. Many actors will be reluctant to share details about their personal movements. Their rights have to be respected and cannot be violated.”

— Input by Shaheen Parkar

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