Friday, January 27th, 2023 02:43:46

Does Ril Boss Need Government Security?

Updated: May 11, 2013 12:24 pm

Multi-billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian and the Chairman of the country’s biggest private sector company Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) was recently provided with Z category security cover by the Indian government after an anonymous letter purportedly sent by terrorist group Indian Mujahideen threatened to harm him and his Rs 5000 crore house in South Mumbai.

Ambani, apart from the the richest man in India with $21.5 billion (around Rs 1,16,000 crore) of personal wealth, is the 22nd richest billionaire in the world as per Forbes magazine which tracks the wealth of billionaires across the globe.

As per the notification by the Home Ministry headed by Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ambani will be protected and escorted round the clock by elite commandos from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He is entitled to 22 security guards, an escort and a pilot car—the sort of arrangements provided for a handful of politicians.

This is for the first time that a private individual has been provided with government security and the government had walked extra miles to ensure that Ambani is well protected.

The government’s decision came at a time when Delhi was erupting following the gang rape of a five years old girl and police inaction to curb such heinous crime. Following an uproar, the government clarified that Ambani will pay for the Z category security and on this head he would spend about Rs 15 lakh a month.

The Home Ministry justified the grant of security cover stating that Ambani is a “national asset” and deserves the 24X7 protection by armed commandos because of death threats from terrorists.

Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said that security was given only after assessment of the threat perception assessment.

So far only top politicians and some bureaucrats in terrorist infected states like Punjab & J&K have been provided with Z security cover.

Two months ago, a letter threatening to harm Mr Ambani was hand-delivered to his office in Mumbai. The Mumbai police is probing into it. But so far no one knows who actually wrote that letter and whether it is credible. But the government, citing intelligence bureau reports, went ahead in granting the second highest security cover to Ambani.

It is believed that Ambani may have antagonized the Indian Mujahideen because of his proximity to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Besides, Ambani’s house Antila has been built on land that once belonged to the Wakft board. Though Ambani had purchased this land and had got all necessary clearances, he was still under fire from fundamentalists.

So far Ambani and his family has been guarded by an elite group of private security guards drawn from RIL’s captive security arm the Reliance Group Security Service (RGSS)—that provides security and allied support services to all RIL Group Companies. The RGSS has branches like Operations, Vigilance, Security Technology and Engineering.

RIL’s refineries which are also potential targets of terrorists are guarded by these security forces. And the best of the security men and commandoes are supplied to Ambani for his round the clock protection. RIL has also hired retired CIA and Mossad agents for the protection of its chairman.

But the government is of the opinion that Ambani would not be safe with a private fleet of guards because they are allowed to carry only .12 bore rifles, and not more powerful weapons. So a top level government security cover is imperative following threats to Ambani’s life, the government said.

Though Reliance provides protection for Ambani, it however lacks government intelligence inputs. Now under CRPF protection, Ambani will avail this privilege as well.

Under “Z Category” cover, Ambani will have 22 security guards, an escort and a pilot car, an arrangement similar to that provided for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi who are protected by Special Protection Group (SPG). Politicians from Left parties have vented their ire for this special treatment to a rich industrialist.

“It is unprecedented that at a time when such ghastly and gruesome incidents of rape are taking place and people are demanding more security, Z category of security is given to a top corporate leader like Ambani and the commoners left in the lurch,” senior CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharya told journalists.

CPI leader A B Bardhan said: “Our party demands that the government order be rescinded and the CRPF be sent back for their primary task.”

“This is the first time a private person, because he happens to be an Ambani, is being provided with such security for his person and his residence by a government which is failing every day to protect the common man, especially women and children,” Bardhan added.

He said it was a matter of shame for this government and shows for whom it works. Mukesh Ambani has all the resources at his command to provide security for himself and his establishments, the veteran CPI leader said. The contention of the Left politicians is that why should such a rich man be provided with government security and why should our paramilitary forces guard a private house, which is the costliest private house in the world.

Ambani’s house Antilia is located in Altamount Road, one of South Mumbai’s costliest areas. This house has 600 full-time staff that maintains it. The house which is actually a skyscraper has 27 floors with extra-high ceilings and other buildings of equivalent height may have as many as 60 floors. The building has built up area of 400,000-square foot.

Antilia contains a multi-story car park with space for 168 luxury cars. It also has three helipads on the roof. The lobby has nine elevators and the house has a spa, terraced gardens and a temple. It also has a ballroom, guest suites and theatre with seating capacity of 50 people. Ambani stays here with his wife Nita and three children Akash, Isha and Anant. Two of these children are studying in the US.

So now the CRPF commandoes drawn from its best personnel will be guarding Ambani wherever he goes. The Indian government provides four types of security based on the risk profile a person. These include X,Y,Z, and Z-plus. The SPG protection provided to the PM, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi is one level above Z-plus. Z and Z-plus security is given to cabinet ministers, SC and HC judges, some chief ministers and senior bureaucrats. For example Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh has Z-plus security. Sachin Tendulkar is also in Z plus security.

Union ministers like Sachin Pilot and Beni Prasad Verma have Z level security. So when such privilege was given to the RIL chairman, it created a storm. RIL is no mean company neither its chairman who has vast clout in the government.

For the financial year 2012-13 RIL reported net profit of Rs.21,003 crore and its sales turnover was Rs.371,119 crore. The company has cash and cash equivalents of Rs.82,975 crore and Ambani has become too big not to be ignored.

When sundry politicians like Mulayum Singh and Mayawati can be provided security at the expense of the tax payers, why not Ambani who will foot his own bill?

By Jully Mishra from Mumbai

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