Mumbai: As Mumbai Police goes all out to protect Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name Is Khan and its release, a recent Right to Information query reveals how the men in khaki are increasingly being deployed to provide security cover to VIPs at the expense of the common man.
Even as Mumbai remains high on the terror list and vulnerable to attacks, the city force is struggling to protect public places and sensitive installations.
Now a Right to Information (RTI) query by activist Chetan Kothari has revealed that in the last three years 23,000 policemen were deployed to provide security cover to VIPs or were on bandobast (security arrangement) duties for visiting dignitaries.
For an already stretched police force with just 40,000 men, the task of guarding VIPs is now top focus.
Kothari’s findings show that in 2007, 4,450 policemen and officers were deployed in providing security cover, which went up to 8,842 policemen in 2008 and in 2009, 10,413 men were protecting important people and celebrities.
In the last three years there has been 57 per cent increase in policemen assigned to VIP security. On top of it there is round the clock police cover given to builders, businessmen and film stars.
From 360 in 2008, the number of VIPs enjoying police security is 457 now.
"At whose cost is this manpower being assigned? There aren't so many policemen to be assigned for VIP protection. When they take policemen from the police station, this means that you and I are less protected. There'll be no police cover for public," says former Mumbai Police commissioner Julio Rebeiro.
Counter terror measures or routine policing duties suffer due to the additional strain on the force when a VIP comes calling.
The RTI also showed that Mumbai police provided security cover to 1,600 people under Z-plus, Z , Y, and X categories based on the threat perceptions in 2009.
For every VIP that came to the city, the Mumbai Police put 10 officers and 30 police personnel each.
Understaffed, ill equipped, underpaid and add to that long stressful working hours, many a times for protecting a VIP. Is policing the city, their prime duty taking a backseat?