One rule for the rich and another for the poor: outcry as India's richest man Mukesh Ambani gets 'VIP' police protection

 

Delhi

The Indian authorities have been accused of providing security for the rich and poweful but doing nothing for the safety of ordinary people after it was announced the country’s wealthiest man is to get “VIP” police protection usually reserved for senior politicians and officials.

Billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, who lives in a  27-storey Mumbai tower that reportedly cost as much as £1.30bn, is to be provided a team of up to 24 armed policemen to provide around the clock protection after he received a threatening letter from extremists.

The government has defended the move, saying that Mr Ambani is a “national asset”. But campaigners say the move underscores the priorities of a government that has been accused of doing insufficient to protect ordinary women and children from rapes and sexual assaults.

The move to provide 56-year-old Mr Ambani with “Z category” protection comes amid ongoing protests in Delhi after two young girls – aged four and five – were raped and left for dead in separate incidents in the country. The police have been repeatedly accused of failing to take action and even of assaulting women who have gone to complain.

“On one hand the government is acting like a security agency for Ambani, but at the same time it cannot provide security to its own people,” said Manish Sisodia of the Aam Aadmi party, which was formed last by activists. “Its priority is not the common people of the country – it’s Ambani.”

The government said it was to provide security to Mr Ambani after he received a hand-written letter two months ago which threatened to attack the industrialist’s home. Reports suggest the Indian mujahideen, a shadowy organisation often blamed for bomb attacks in India, is believed to have sent the letter.

No-one from India’s ministry of home affairs could be reached today, but information minister Manish Tewari told the NDTV news channel: “Security is given only after threat perception assessment.”


The Indian media speculated that Mr Ambani, said by Forbes to be worth £14bn, may have been targetted because of his perceived close relationship with the controversial chief minister of the state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who has been accused to prevent the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in 2002.

Mr Ambani’s Reliance Industries has declined to publicly comment on the development. But it is understood the industrialist has offered to the protection team’s monthly costs of up to £11,000.

But it is not just a matter of money. Earlier this year, India’s supreme court condemned the VIP protection culture that was taking up thousands of police officers that could otherwise be involved in regular duties. In the aftermath of the December 16 gang-rape and murder of a young student, the court asked the authorities to redeploy officers to protect women.

Of the 75,000-strong Delhi force, a minimum of 8,049 are involved in protecting 460 VIPs, an average of 17 officers per official as opposed to one police officers for every 250 ordinary citizens. Based on the government’s own data, across India there is just one officer for every 760 people. It may be, even more officers are involved protecting the VIPs.

The controversy over whether the government is doing sufficient to protect ordinary people, comes as protesters have been demanding the authorities do more to protect ordinary citizens, particularly women. Since last December’s gang-rape of a 23-year-old student, the country has been gripped by a debate over the treatment of women and the media has reported rapes and assaults on a daily basis.

Protesters held locations in several locations, including outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi where a young girl is being treated after being attacked and raped. According to Dr DK Sharma, the hospital medical superintendent, the five-year-old is said to be making steady progress after being assaulted and having a bottle and parts of a candle pushed inside her. “She is showing signs of recovery,” he said.

Yet reports suggest another young girl, aged four and attacked in the city of Nagpur, is still struggling and is on a life support machine in that city.

One protester, Yogita Chakraborty, said the authorities had to take more incisive action. She said too many police officers were unwillingness to register rape cases. She said: “We want the police to take responsibility and be pro-active.”

As a “Z Category” VIP, Mr Ambani will have up to 22 security guards from the Central Reserve Police Force, an escort and a pilot car

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing