Not waiting for Governor B.L. Joshi's approval for the Special Zone Protection Force (SZPF) Bill and an ordinance by the same name meant for constituting a force for guarding monuments of Dalit icons, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Friday decided to constitute a special force of ex-servicemen with immediate effect.

The SZPF Bill passed by both Houses of the Legislature on February 18, 2010, was sent to the Governor for his approval. But with Mr. Joshi sitting over it, the government sent an ordinance to the Raj Bhavan on March 26, 2010, with some amendments. Still there was no response from the Governor.

The proposal submitted before the Cabinet on Friday was granted prompt approval. The recruitment of ex-servicemen would begin from Saturday with the Principal Secretary (Home) given the authority of completing the formalities. The Cabinet meeting was presided over by Ms. Mayawati.

The SZPF proposal envisages the constitution of a battalion comprising about 1,200 security personnel, and would be headed by an ex-Army officer of colonel rank. The recruitment process and the service rules would be the same as applicable elsewhere in the country. About Rs.8 to 9 crore would be spent on constituting the force in the first year and it is likely to be set up by April-end.

Executive decision

Describing the move as an executive decision of the government, which implied that there was no confrontation with the Raj Bhavan on this issue, Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told journalists here that the Bill and the SZPF were two separate issues.

He clarified that there was no discussion with the Governor on this issue. As head of the State, it was the Governor's prerogative to take any decision on the pending Bill and ordinance, he said.

To begin with, the security force would be responsible for the security of nine sites, including memorials, museums, parks, statues and galleries built to Dalit icons in Lucknow and Noida (Gautam Buddha Nagar).

In fact, the urgency and reasons given for constituting the SZPF were interesting. Stating that the monuments built in memory of Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and other eminent persons were the BSP government's tribute to their contribution, Mr. Singh said the security of these sites was a matter of concern for the government.

There was a fear that these might be vandalised by casteist and anti-Dalit elements. That was why there was a pressing need for constituting a special security force, Mr. Singh said.

Any damage to the monuments would create a furore in the country and cause law and order problem. “These things were kept in mind before taking the decision to form a separate force.”

Moreover, recruitment from the police would have caused a heavy strain on them and there would have been a shortfall in their numbers.

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