On Monday afternoon, roads leading to late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence looked almost the same, with barricades to stop and check people at various points.
But there was one crucial difference: the number of police officers on the roads had considerably reduced. Instead, private security guards in dark blue uniforms were seen at some places.
A police officer on the spot told TNM that the number of police personnel at Poes Garden had been scaled down from Monday.
A private security guard told TNM that on Monday 30 guards would provide security. “There are thirty of us. But we will work in two shifts, 15 in the morning and 15 later.”
However, this journalist noted that Chennai police officials still outnumbered the private security guards.
When Jayalalithaa was residing at Poes Garden, a large contingent of police personnel used to be stationed at the Binny Road intersection near her residence, that point however was conspicuously empty on Monday.
The decision to scale down police forces at Poes Garden, which is currently occupied by Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala comes two days after DMK treasurer and Opposition leader MK Stalin had demanded their withdrawal.
Stalin had alleged that retaining a police force at a place where no one with a constitutional position was residing in was a waste of resources.
He had said in a statement, “Providing security to individuals living in that house amounts to denigrating government forces to the level of private security guards. It is illegal and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Moreover, the talent and skills of efficient police officials are wasted.”
He alleged that about 240 security personnel including Superintendent of Police (SP), four additional SPs, four Deputy SPs, seven inspectors, many sub-inspectors, head constables and constables were on duty on three shifts.
He also threatened that if this security arrangement was not removed outside Jayalalithaa’s house, the DMK would go ahead with legal action.
The Times of India had reported that even after 18 days since the death of Jayalalithaa, a special team of commandos continued to provide security at Poes Garden. It also added that Jayalalithaa’s residence has at least 300 police personnel doing security duty.
(Edited by Pheba Mathew)