Security agencies maintained the ‘security audit’ was nothing but a routine activity aimed at prevention and detection of crime

Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi may be absconding from the political stage, introspecting and doing Vipassana at some unknown destination abroad, but his absence continues to make headlines. This time, it was the Delhi police that was found profiling the missing leader, in what they claimed was a security audit, even though no one had lodged a missing person’s complaint. On Saturday, the Congress attempted to create a storm alleging “political espionage” on its would-be president. The security agencies, however, maintained it was nothing, but a routine activity, aimed at prevention and detection of crime, as well as to audit security of the vulnerable citizen. The admitted the questionnaire found in possession of the assistant sub-inspector Shamsher Singh, was a British era antiquated document, full of needless details, last slightly updated in early 90s. A Delhi police special branch official Singh, Identity No. 28820025 was spotted by the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) commandos near the residence of Rahul Gandhi on March 3, filling up some forms last week. Sources in Gandhi office told dna that when he was accosted by the staff, a proforma titled “Shri Rahul Gandhi—head of political party” was found in his possession. It had very interesting and somewhat weird questions, like name, father’s name, the height, the age, the colour of eyes, colour of hair or Rahul Gandhi, besides his choice of dress, shoes and their size. “More importantly the telephone numbers and addresses of each of his associates, friends, what he does, where he goes,” said a Rahul aide. But why they didn’t make it public, aides in Rahul Gandhi office said they got unnerved when another cop on March 12 was found enquiring office staff with same proforma. Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi confirmed this, saying, “Our beat officer Rameshwar went to his house on March 12 and sought details about him. As beat officers are not able to directly meet such persons, they contact their office staff and leave performa pertaining to required details.” At an urgently called press conference, party senior spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi dubbed it as snooping on Rahul’s premises as “an also intrusion into a political opponent’s personal life.” But police aptly rubbished allegations, saying the exercise was aimed at securing Gandhi. “As per age-old system, all beat constables are expected to be informed about high-profile people living in their area. They are provided with a proforma which is filled with micro details These information is used in a situation of emergency,” say officials, who visited Rahul Gandhi’s Tuglaq Road residence, soon after the issue created storm. Singhvi asserted that India is a proud, vibrant democracy, “not a police state” where this kind of spying takes place. He suspected the political motives of the Modi government in mounting vigil on a political opponent. He said: “This kind of political espionage is condemnable. This may be Gujarat model, but certainly not an India model.” Sources in the party said that immediately after the issue came up in the media, Congress president Sonia Gandhi called on leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge to raise the issue in Parliament on Monday. The Youth Congress members also took no time, to protest outside the home minister Raj Nath Singh’s residence here for trying to terrorise their leader as also his aides and supporters by sending a police inspector to probe their addresses and phone numbers. Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi claimed his man had no malafide intention as his probe was a routine activity as also done in case of many other VVIPs, while the ruling BJP’s spokesman Sambit Patra accused the Congress of politicising a “technical issue” since it has no other issue to discuss. On the Police Commissioner’s claim of similar inquiries made about other political leaders to justify such “routine” exercise evoked protests that it amounts to the Modi government putting police on leaders of the opposition parties. Since names of leaders of other parties tailed by police have come out, the Congress will certainly get support of all the opposition parties to put the government in dock in Parliament on Monday. What wrong if Rahul Gandhi being a SPG (Special Protection Group) protectee is visited by one giving him protection cover, Patra said, advising the Congress to see it “as a technical thing and not a political thing instead of seeing everything through a political prism.” Singhvi said that is exactly his point that Rahul being an SPG protectee, “there was nothing wrong if he were visited by those who give him the protection cover,” but one who came snooping has nothing to do with the SPG. Other Congress leaders see a design behind a court notice to drag former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the coal scam and police mounting surveillance on Rahul as Prime Minister Modi’s way of terrorising the political rivals as he used to do in Gujarat as the chief minister. He is trying to take revenge since the Congress is exposing all his lies with which the BJP captured power and preventing him from a free run on the country, they said. Police Commissioner Bassi said such surveys were conducted at the offices of all protected persons from time to time owing to prevention and detection of crime and maintaining of law and order. “Rahul Gandhi was not targeted by the police. It was a routine activity which is done to keep records of vulnerable personalities. Police also visited houses of Veerappa Moily, L K Advani, K Chandrasekhar Rao among others. There was no malafide intension behind seeking details about Gandhi,” Bassi told media persons. He denied being dictated either by the Prime Minister’s Office or the Home Ministry to visit Rahul’s residence. According to Bassi, on the same day, police officials l went to the houses of MP Krishan Pal Gujjar, Naresh Agarwal, M Veerappa Moily and Telengana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. He added that police keeps details of all vulnerable leaders like Amit Shah and Sonia Gandhi. “Such details are also important in many cases… for instance, if there is any protest outside house of any important leader, cops may face problem in locating the house and identifying their staff without any such information,” Bassi said. Meanwhile, Rahul has extended his leave and is expected to return by March end. He has been away for almost a month now, having left on February 16 and has been severely criticised for from missing the crucial Budget sessions. Though, Congress has been mum about his whereabouts, but there is speculation that he is doing vipasana somewhere in Myanmar. Others say, he was in Bangkok, but has now headed towards Europe.

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Delhi police hunting missing Rahul Gandhi?