Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the latest among 200-odd people in Mumbai who are provided heightened security by the central government. The categories are termed Z-plus, Z, Y and X.
The Z-category for Ambani means an armed commando squad will guard him all 24 hours in a day. It is given to only those with a very high security threat perception.
Apart from a few politicians and government officials, those getting it — industrialists, film stars, builders — have to pay for the cost.
According to Union home ministry rules, the deployment of troopers for Ambani would also be on a cost-reimbursement basis. He would have to pay Rs 15-16 lakh a month and also provide barracks for the personnel.
A senior police official said though Ambani has his own private security guards, they are not allowed to carry weapons of higher calibre and sophistication.
The official said Ambani had got a threat similar to the one that triggered the latest decision through an anonymous letter in 2008. The city police had then considered setting up a chowki at his house in south Mumbai. “However, there was no further movement. But in the wake of the recent threat from the Indian Mujahdeen, Ambani will be given 24x7 protection of 28 commandoes of the Central Reserve Police Force.”
The city police has also revive the earlier move to set up a police chowki at Ambani’s residential premises. Security by the city police will also be expanded and beat officials directed to keep a close vigil of his residence and office.
Another official said 90 per cent of the security staff currently protecting Ambani are retired officials of the National Security Guard. “It will now be a two-tier security cover for Ambani, with his own security personnel and CRPF,” the official added.
M N Singh, former city police commissioner, justified the home ministry’s decision to provide CRPF security cover to Ambani. “The decision must have been taken based on a threat perception analysis. Ambani has played a key role in the country’s economic growth and the government is duty-bound to protect him,” he said.