The halls of India's Parliament were thrust into chaos on the 13th of December as a breach in security led to a startling intrusion by two individuals. Amidst the commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of a past militant attack on the Parliament, scenes of turmoil unfolded as the intruders disrupted proceedings by shouting slogans and releasing coloured gas.
Witnesses recounted the frantic moments as security officials and lawmakers grappled to contain the situation. Images captured the intruders leaping across tables within the chamber, creating a spectacle of disorder. Swift action by security personnel eventually subdued the intruders, bringing a halt to the commotion that had gripped the Parliament.
Investigations and Detentions
The breach immediately triggered a flurry of inquiries and detentions. Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla announced a comprehensive investigation into the incident, involving the collaboration of the Delhi Police. "We are investigating the matter and have asked Delhi Police to join the inquiry," Om Birla told the BBC.
The motives behind the intrusion remained ambiguous, intensifying the urgency of the ongoing investigations.
Overhauling Security Measures
The breach became the catalyst for segregating Members of Parliament (MPs) from visitors, instigating the establishment of exclusive entry and exit points solely reserved for elected officials. The demarcation of distinct pathways aimed to insulate lawmakers from potential security risks posed by external elements.
Simultaneously, the media encountered heightened restrictions, finding themselves distanced further from the lawmakers they once closely covered. Access to the inner sanctums of the Parliament corridors was heavily curtailed, enforcing stringent limitations on movement for all, regardless of designation or purpose.
The overhaul encompassed various aspects, introducing changes in the movement, identification, and access of individuals within the Parliament complex. Exclusive gates were designated for MPs, while stringent security checks and facial recognition devices were installed to regulate entry. The alterations disrupted the familiar routines of staffers and security personnel, who navigated through the intricacies of the revamped layout.
One of the staffers told The Hindu, “We could enter from the Makar Dwar (the common gate for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Chamber) and we had memorised our way to our office through it. Now, we have to figure it out once again,” Meanwhile, one of the security personnel while talking to The Hindu warned that they are overworked and don’t have enough strength to be able to cover all the different gates of the Parliament.
Questions Surrounding Authorization
The individuals responsible for the breach purportedly carried authorization from a BJP MP Pratap Simha, who is a Lok Sabha member from Mysore-Kodagu. This raises concerns about the vetting process for visitor passes. The issuance of visitors' passes to the Parliament is regulated by stringent protocols outlined in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
Rule 386 governs the admission, withdrawal, and removal of strangers during House sittings. It explicitly states that entry to non-exclusive areas is subject to the Speaker's directives.
Crucially, MPs play a pivotal role in the visitor pass issuance process. They are tasked with certifying the authenticity and credibility of individuals seeking access. When applying for visitors' cards, MPs are required to provide a certificate vouching for the personal acquaintance or familiarity of the visitor. This certificate assumes full responsibility for the visitor's conduct within the premises.
The Rules dictate that visitor names must be provided in full, with complete details extending to familial relationships and photo identification. MPs are advised to exercise utmost caution when endorsing passes for individuals who may have been introduced to them by someone personally known to the MP.
In the aftermath of the breach, discussions centred on bolstering security measures to prevent future intrusions. Proposals to strengthen regulations for issuing visitor passes gained traction, emphasizing the need for MPs to exercise enhanced responsibility and accountability for those they vouch for within the premises.
While investigations delve into the motives behind the breach, the Parliament remains steadfast in fortifying its security apparatus. The adjustments made post-13th December underscore a commitment to safeguarding the sanctity and security of one of the nation's most esteemed institutions. As measures evolve and investigations continue, the Indian Parliament endeavours to uphold its integrity and protect against potential threats.