New Delhi, 1st Sept. 2010 : When it came to security for her August 9 rally in Lalgarh in West Bengal, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, in addition to roping in trusted retired IPS officers, ordered the deployment of the Railways Protection Force (RPF) at the venue.
The RPF deployment was made without keeping the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and West Bengal Police in the loop and this has generated a lot of heat.
The RPF deployment, official sources told The Indian Express, was a violation of standard operating procedures governing the security of VIPs like Union Ministers. “It was completely against the directives of the Blue Book which lays down rules on how security should be provided to VIPs. The RPF presence at the rally was unauthorised,” the sources said.
Two RPF companies (around 200 personnel) were deployed for the Lalgarh rally. Senior RPF officials from the Eastern and the South Eastern Railways were also present there. The RPF personnel were present in the motorcade, at the ground where the rally took place and provided cover to the dais from where Banerjee spoke.
“Being a Central paramilitary force, the Railways Ministry required MHA clearance before deploying RPF in Lalgarh. No such permission was taken. The RPF should have coordinated with the state police since the latter was primarily responsible for Banerjee’s security. That too was not done, leading to a situation where the local police got sidelined, opening gaps in overall security,” sources said.
Last year, Banerjee declined to spare RPF personnel for election duties in Maharashtra and Jharkhand. It was only after a rap from the MHA that Rail Bhavan allowed the deployment of the force. On another occasion, Banerjee declined to clear a list of RPF officials nominated for a FBI-sponsored 12-day training programme on railway security in the United States because no official from home state West Bengal was on the list.