Chandigarh’s grandees may now have to ‘secure’ their security personnel within their sprawling government and private bungalows, with the court cracking down on the public nuisance caused by their bodyguards.
With the Punjab and Haryana High Court setting a 15-day deadline for the Chandigarh administration to come up with a concrete plan to ensure that all such ugly tents are removed from public spaces, people in the city will be able to breathe easy.
“The security tents are a complete nuisance for other residents. While the VIPs live inside their bungalows with high walls, the security personnel sit, sleep, wash clothes and utensils outside. Our families cannot even move around freely in the area,” Balbir Singh, a Chandigarh resident, told.
Certain judges of the high court, on their own, recently removed the tents of their security personnel from public land and decided to provide them accommodation within the premises of their official bungalows.
The menace of unauthorised security tents is spread around several sectors of Chandigarh. The tents are pitched on green belts, parks and other public areas.
The city, which is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana states and the headquarters of the union territory (UT) administration, has scores of VVIPs and VIPs who enjoy police security from respective governments.
Among the Z-plus category protectees in the city are the governors (Shivraj Patil of Punjab and Jagannath Pahadia of Haryana), chief ministers (Parkash Singh Badal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Punjab and Haryana respectively), the family of late Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and All India Anti-Terrorist Front leader Maninderjit Singh Bitta.
An affidavit submitted by the local authorities before the high court has pointed out that at least 36 unauthorised tents belonged to VVIPs in various sectors. These include eight tents each of Beant Singh’s family and Maninderjit Singh Bitta. Five unauthorized tents belong to the Punjab chief minister.
The administration had earlier proposed that it will write to the Punjab and Haryana governments to ask the respective VVIPs to remove the unauthorised tents, but the high court asked for a time-bound concrete plan.
“Can a chief secretary write to the chief minister asking him to remove the illegal tents (outside the chief minister’s official residence)?” asked Justice R.N. Raina, who is part of the division bench, headed by acting Chief Justice M.M. Kumar, hearing the matter.
A PIL (public interest litigation) was filed in the high court recently to highlight the menace of unauthorised security tents. The violators include top politicians, senior police officers, bureaucrats and senior lawyers.
Many VIPs in the city enjoy state security since the times of terrorism in Punjab (1980-1995). Despite their being no terrorist violence since then, most of the VIPs continue to enjoy the security.