More than 19,000 ministers, MPs, MLAs, judges and bureaucrats among other VIPs were provided protection by more than 66,000 police personnel in 2019, according to the latest data on police organisations published by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D). Interestingly, none of the top states providing security to large numbers of VIPs are significantly impacted by insurgency of any kind or violent movement.
The data shows that West Bengal, Punjab and Bihar provided security to the highest number of VIPs while states such as Chhattisgarh – which recorded 112 incidents of Maoist encounters, 46 civilian deaths and 77 IED explosions in 2019 – put the least number of VIPs under protection. While West Bengal and Punjab put under protection VIPs in excess of 3,000 and 2,500 respectively, Chhattisgarh provided protection to just 315 people.
“Police protection, if given on actual security concerns, will never exceed a few hundred in any state. But it is common knowledge that police protection is given for political reasons. Then in much of North India, particularly in Punjab, there is a VIP culture where the size of your entourage and the number of gunmen project your power,” said a senior police officer.
While the number of VIPs under protection dropped from 21,300 in 2018 to 19,467 in 2019, the corresponding deployment of police personnel for VIP protection went up from 63,061 to 66,043. This indicates VIPs in 2019 were provided a higher grade of security compared to 2018.
Delhi deployed the highest number of personnel (8,182) on VIP security duty despite just 501 VIPs being under its protection, according to the BPR&D data. It would translate to 16 personnel on an average protecting a single VIP. The data is particularly revealing in the sense that not a single insurgency-affected state, barring Jharkhand, makes it to top five in providing protection to VIPs.
According to the data, West Bengal provided protection to 3,142 VIPs in 2019 recording an increase of about 13 per cent over 2018. It deployed over 6,000 police personnel on this job. Punjab put close to 2,600 VIPs under protection of over 7,700 personnel. Bihar is a close third with over 2,300 VIPs under protection but it stands out as it trimmed its VIP list by almost 50 per cent as compared to 2018. In that year, the state had over 4,600 VIPs under protection. Curiously, though, this trimming had little impact on deployment of police personnel on VIP duty in the state.
Conversely, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and Chhattisgarh — which have all faced violent extremism or insurgency – have put far lesser numbers of VIPs under protection. In J&K, only 1,184 VIPs were put under protection in 2019, with close to 3,000 personnel being deployed. Assam had 1,199 VIPS under protection of 4,000 personnel, while Manipur had just over 200 VIPs under protection of over 2,000 personnel. Chhattisgarh had 315 VIPs under protection of 2,700 personnel. The least number of VIPs under police protection in any major state were in Goa (32) followed by Odisha (48) and Kerala (57).