Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said the Centre was playing politics by downgrading his security – his National Security Guard cover (NSG) was withdrawn. The NSG Black Cat commandos will be replaced by CRPF commandos.
Addressing a press meet in Guwahati on December 22nd, 2019 said, “I NSG security cover has been withdrawn for protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and anti-people activities of the BJP-led government.”
Mahanta further blamed Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and the leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a party founded by him, for “pressurising” the Centre to downgrade his NSG cover.
“The government can take away all my security covers which I deserve as a former Chief Minister. The people of the state will protect me. This move is nothing but a case of political vendetta as I am vocal against the policies of the BJP government. The government cannot stifle my voice by taking away the security cover,” he added.
A staunch critic of the CAA, Mahanta had earlier expressed his disappointment over the decision of his party to vote in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill while it was being passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The AGP has three ministers in the BJP-led Assam government.
The government has scaled down the categorisation of the new cover accorded to Mahanta by keeping it as ‘Z+ mobile’, which means the security personnel will not be protecting the residential premises of the veteran AGP leader but securing them only when they travel.
Z+ NSG cover was accorded to Mahanta in 1997 after militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam made an abortive bid on his life. However, the BJP-led government had withdrawn the Z+ cover in 2017 following which he moved the Gauhati High Court, which restored his NSG cover.