After analysing the threat perceptions during the five states assembly elections, the Ministry of Home Affairs has till now provided central security cover to 23 BJP candidates and leaders in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab till election gets over.
Sources said that BJP candidate and Union Minister S.P.S. Baghel has been provided ‘Z’ category security cover in Uttar Pradesh by Central Industrial Security Force while other BJP MP Dr Ramesh Chand has been given ‘X’ category security cover.
Similarly in Punjab, 21 sitting MLAs who are contesting elections have been given ‘Y’ category security cover from Central Reserve Police Force. The prominent among them are Avtar Singh Zira, Nimisha T. Mehta who recently joined the saffron party, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Sardar Kanwar Veer Singh Tohra, Sardar Didar Singh Bhatti, Sardar Kanwar Veer Singh Tohra, Sardar Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, Sardar Hariot Kamal while Sukhwinder Singh Bindra have been given ‘Y+’ security.
Sources quoting officials said that some of the BJP candidates already have security cover from the state police but even then they have been provided with central security cover.
This security cover will be given to these candidates till the assembly elections and the continuation of the security will be decided after a review of the situation.
The Centre’s move to provide security cover to the BJP leaders and candidates is akin to the decision taken by the MHA during the Bengal polls last year wherein central government provided security covers to many BJP leaders and candidates during the election period and subsequently withdrawn after the election process was over.
Earlier, the Union Home Ministry has already accorded VIP security cover to some of the leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and other religious outfits in Punjab.
Recently, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s security cover was also upgraded from Y category to Z category during his stay in Delhi and Punjab. Shekhawat is the BJP election in-charge for the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab.
The other turncoats who joined BJP like former Akali Dal’s youth wing leader Parminder Singh Brar, Manjinder Singh Sirsa got ‘Z’ category security while Gurmit Singh Sodhi’s security cover was upgraded from the ‘Y’ category to the ‘Z’ category. Sodhi had also joined BJP with Sirsa in December.
The Centre’s move came after the input by the intelligence agencies that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has activated all of its terror wings to disrupt Punjab’s election process. Intelligence inputs, according to sources within the security set up, indicate that ISI-sponsored Sikh terror outfits may attempt to target election rallies in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand, and also try to target some important leaders or VIPs.