Mudda panel discusses beefing up security after explosive found in UP Vidhan Sabha

 In a shocking incident, PETN, a primary explosive, was found in the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. After forensic investigation confirmed the white powdery substance to be a PETN, questions were raised about the serious laxity in the security of the house. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took up the matter in the Vidhan Sabha session. He said that, had it been an airport, the substance would have been detected during the security check. Police verification of every worker should be carried out. The NIA should investigate the matter and find out who brought it inside. Adityanath further suggested that no MLA should bring a mobile phone inside the Vidhan Sabha and a quick response team should be constituted. PETN was used in the 2011 Delhi High Court blast that killed 17 people and injured 76.

Friday’s edition of Mudda, APN’s daily current affairs talk show, discussed the incident. Moderated by Arvind Chaurasia, the guests were former DGP Anand Lal, Col (Retd) Fasi Ahmed, Congress spokesperson Hilal Naqvi, UP BJP spokesperson Harish Srivastava and Samajwadi Party leader Manoj Yadav.

Anand Lal delineated the security structure of the Vidhan Sabha. He said: “The security is three-tiered. There is a police chowk in the outer circle of the Vidhan Sabha. Second-tier security includes members of the Sachivalay Suraksha Dal. I don’t know how they are appointed and what training they are given. Third-tier security constitutes the marshals. This matter is a serious security breach. The security should be increased and the matter should be investigated.”

Col Ahmed focused on the probable causes of such a security breach. He said: “The reasons are basic. We are strong on paper but on the ground we fall behind. It is a ground reality that PSOs have become chaperones; they are not security officers anymore. How untrained they are can be determined by the fact that none of the security personnel could identify that the substance was PETN. Even sniffer dogs could not detect it. We can see that anyone can breach the system easily.

“No one should start a blame game now. It is not professional. This is a major issue. Everybody should see how security can be increased.”

Naqvi blamed the prevalent “VIP culture”. He said: “MLAs’ cars are allowed to pass through, even if the car has five other people. The identities of those people are not sought by the police. It is not that the police do it willingly. The truth is, no one can stop any car. This culture needs to end. Secondly, the security personnel are untrained. They don’t know how to do a proper security check, how to check for such explosives, how to identify suspicious behaviour.”

Srivastava too stressed the weak security structure.

Yadav, on the other hand, tried to indulge in a political blame game but he was cut short and the topic was brought to the fore by the anchor. Yadav said that those who are carrying out such deeds are doing so because the government is allowing them to do so. But Col Ahmed said this is not the time to start blaming each other, instead all should sit together and decide on a uniform and strong security structure.

The second half of the show discussed the NGT’s strictures for clearing of the Ganga. Thirty-two years after a PIL was filed by lawyer MC Mehta, the NGT’s principal bench, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, laid out some strictures: No dumping of waste for 500 m from the bank of the river, a no-development zone extending 100 m from the river, and all tanneries and factories to be moved from the banks of the river in six weeks’ time. There will also be a penalty of Rs 50,000 for anyone dumping waste into the river.

Environmentalist Vikrant Togde, former judge CB Pandey and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju joined the debate on this topic.

Togde pointed out that the problem was that so many NOCs were given for factories to be set up near the river.

Naqvi questioned the work done by the previous governments – almost Rs 7,000 crore was spent in two years, yet the river was growing dirtier. He said: “Not a single penny was allocated for cleaning of the Ganga in this budget. What do we make of this? A proper waste management plan needs to be formulated for cleaning of the river.”

Srivastava assured everyone that the centre is making serious efforts for the cleaning of the Ganga. He added: “We have even started awareness campaigns in nearby villages. We are bringing everybody together in our efforts.”

Raju concluded that neither the government nor the Supreme Court is serious about the project. He said: “As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, it took them more than 30 years to come up with anything. Huge amounts of cash are being spent by the government in the name of the project, still the river remains black to its core. Officials are bribed to carry out activities in the name of religion that are polluting the river.”

Compiled by Usha Rani Das