Satya Pal Malik approves bill on special security force for J&K Governor; PDP leader says he is building 'great wall of China' around himself

Security of government officials has always been a matter of priority in insurgency-affected Jammu and Kashmir. While the state already has the Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group Act, 2000, which has provisions on providing proximate security to the chief minister, former chief ministers and their families, the Jammu and Kashmir State Administrative Council (SAC) on Sunday approved a bill that provides for the creation of a separate force to protect the Governor and her or his family members. The SAC is headed by present state Governor Satya Pal Malik.

File image of Satya Pal Malik. PTI

File image of Satya Pal Malik. PTI

The state, which has been under Governor's rule since June after the Bharatiya Janata Party pulled out of its alliance with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has a Special Security Group (SSG) on the lines of the Special Protection Group (SPG) at the Centre to protect current and former chief ministers.

The new bill has been approved three months after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had upgraded the security of former governor NN Vohra to Z Plus category in September.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor’s Special Security Force Bill, 2018

Under this new bill, a Special Security Force (SSF) will be set up especially for the protection of the state governor and his immediate family members. Quoting official sources, the Daily Excelsior said that the force will draw its strength from officers of the state police. The SSF will be based in Jammu, Srinagar and New Delhi. It will continue to protect the governor even when her or his rule is over, and a democratically elected government is formed.

The bill contains provisions related to the constitution and regulation of a separate force for the governor, members of his immediate family and matters connected therewith, an official spokesperson was quoted by PTI. " The legal framework related to constitution and regulation of a separate security force in the state is contained in the Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group Act, 2000," the spokesperson added.

He also added that there was no provision in the existing Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group Act, 2000 for providing security to the governor and his or her immediate family members.

The SSF is likely to be headed by an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), the Excelsior further reported, quoting sources. The SSG was set up in 1996 when a democratically elected government was formed in the state after nearly seven years. It has a strength of 473 personnel.

The governor's security is currently handled by the state police's security wing under an Superintendent of Police-rank officer.

'Building a Great Wall of China'

Malik's approval of the bill creating a special force for himself and his family members has drawn a lot of flak from state politicians, who have accused him of "building a great wall of China" around himself.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Nayeem Akhtar, a PDP leader and former minister, said, "We have had a former chief of army staff and a former chief of R&AW as governors during the peak of militancy. They didn’t feel so threatened that they would create a special force for their own protection. Governor Malik was sent with a promise that since he is a politician, he would go to the people and interact with them. But he has erected a great wall of China around himself.’’

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 10, 2018 18:18:42 IST

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