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J&K govt's VIP security to Dutt sparks row
September 03, 2007 20:05 IST
The special security provided to actor Sanjay Dutt [Images] during his visit to the Vaishnodevi shrine in Jammu on Monday has sparked another controversy for the actor.
The police security and government envoy provided to Dutt, who was convicted under the Arms Act and sentenced to six years imprisonment by the TADA Court, has drawn sharp criticism. But the state government has justified it as a regular security drill for important personalities.
The 48-year-old star, who has been granted interim bail till September 27, paid obeisance at the shrine in Trikuta hills for about half-an-hour. Accompanied by girlfriend Manyata and two friends, Dutt also performed a special aarti and donated money.
"Dutt visited the shrine like any other devotee. No special arrangements were made for him," said Additional Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine board Puneet Kumar.
Clad in a white kurta and jeans, Dutt refused to comment on the controversy about the VIP security provided to him by the Jammu and Kashmir [Images] government. "I have no idea about it," said Dutt at the Jammu airport after his visit to the shrine.
Though no special arrangements were made for the actor during the darshan, the Central Reserve Police Force and the state police provided fool-proof security through his yatra to Vaishnodevi and his journey back to Jammu.
Dutt was provided with an official car and a police escort for the pilgrimage as the state government apprehended that he could be an easy target for militants.
"We cannot compromise on the security given to any VIP. We have been providing police vehicles, secured accommodations and police escort to political leaders or even a common man if there is a security threat, How can we compromise on Dutt's security?" said a spokesperson for the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
A spokesperson for the J&K government sought to downplay the issue, saying it was a precautionary security measure.
Jammu's Inspector General of Police S P Vaid said that it is the police's responsibility to provide security for Sanjay Dutt as his sister is a Member of Parliament, his father was a MP and Dutt himself is a famous actor. But Vaid maintained that, "No VIP status was given to Dutt."
However, Vaid agreed that the government car in which Dutt traveled should not have had an activated beacon.
"I have asked the security to ensure that all vehicles don't have a red beacon. It is a mistake committed at the lower level," he added.
The police spokesperson said, "Dutt could have been targetted in view of the highest degree of media attention he has been receiving."
Five militants were killed in an encounter in Trikuta hills five months ago and Sifullah Kari, a top Jaiish-e-Mohammad chief coordinator, was killed in Jammu last month, thereby raising security concerns in the area, said the spokesperson.
"When we provide police escorts and personal security officers to social, political activists and the common man with a security threat, we have to take care of the security needs of a prominent person," said the spokesperson.
Dutt had said on Sunday that he will seek the deity's blessings for everyone, including actor Salman Khan, who was convicted in a poaching case but is now out on bail.