Kangana Ranaut has been given Y-plus category security and will be protected by about 10 armed commandos, the Union Home Ministry announced on Monday, propelling the actor to the centre of a heated political row with Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena and its coalition partners criticising the BJP-led Centre for the decision.
Ranaut, who had said she feared Mumbai Police after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and likened the Maharashtra capital to Pakistan occupied Kashmir, thanked Union Home Minister Amit Shah and declared that no one could crush a patriot.
The decision to provide 24X7 security comes two days before Ranaut, who is in her home state Himachal Pradesh, plans to visit Mumbai on September 9. Her comments, including on drug use in the section of the film industry, led to a bitter row with Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, and many more joining in with their views.
She is the first Bollywood actor who will be guarded by CRPF commandos, an official privy to the development said. It is immediately not known whether she will have to pay the government for the security.
Y-plus category central cover entails the deployment of about 10 armed commandos who will work in shifts around the clock, an official explained.
Describing the “Queen” star as a daughter of Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur issued a video statement welcoming the decision.
He said the Central and the state governments are providing security to the actor and would do whatever necessary for her security.
“I have got information that an 11-member commando team of the CRPF has been provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs for her security yesterday. I welcome this decision and also express my gratitude to union home minister… her security is important for us,” he said.
He said the state police would provide security at the actor’s Manali residence and he had directed the director general of police to assess the security threat.
Ranaut, a National Award winning actor often in the headlines for her provocative comments, went on Twitter to express gratitude for the security being provided to her.
“This shows that no one can crush a patriot in the country. I am thankful to Home Minister Amit Shah,” she said.
“Had he (Amit Shah) wanted, he would have told me to visit Mumbai later but he respected India’s daughter and acknowledged my self-respect. Jai Hind,” Ranaut added.
In Mumbai, a political storm raged.
The actor took to Twitter to share videos of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials at her office premises and alleged that they may demolish the property on Tuesday.
“They have forcefully taken over my office measuring everything, also harassing my neighbors,” she tweeted.
The lines between Bollywood and the world of politics blurring once again, the issue of the Centre providing security to the star led to the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress, the three parties that form the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, lashing out at the BJP.
The state’s Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar termed the Centre’s decision “politically motivated” and accused Ranaut of being the BJP’s “parrot”.
“By giving security to Kangana, the Centre and the BJP have endorsed her comments against Mumbai police and Maharashtra. This is betrayal of the people of the state,” he said.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh added that Ranaut’s comments should be condemned by everybody and the state belongs to all, including the BJP.
“The Centre’s move to provide security to people who insult Mumbai and Maharashtra is surprising and also sad,” he said.
In an apparent jibe at Ranaut, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said some people don’t have gratitude for the city in which they earn their livelihood.
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik also demanded a unanimous resolution in the Maharashtra Assembly for legal action against Ranaut, who he said has “maligned” the image of Maharashtra and Mumbai through her tweets.
The ripples were felt in the national capital too with Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accusing Ranaut of carrying forward the BJP’s political agenda. He claimed the nation’s ruling party had provided her with security cover to enable her to openly defame Maharashtra and criticise its coalition government.
“Despite a particular film actress carrying on the agenda of Modi Ji and BJP, we will ensure adequate protection for her,” he said at a virtual press conference.
“However, to describe the business capital of the country as Pakistan occupied Kashmir is naive, incorrect, political opportunism and reprehensible which no reasonable person will accept,” he said.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said Ranaut had made a wrong statement, but it is the government’s responsibility to protect her.
“Though we are not supporting what Kangana Ranaut said, and nobody will support it, still it is the responsibility of the government (to protect her).
“Because we are not living in a banana republic,” the leader of opposition in the assembly told reporters outside the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai.
BJP leader Ram Kadam had recently asked the state government to provide police protection to Ranaut since “she wanted to expose the Bollywood drug nexus”.
Responding to Kadam’s tweet, the actor said she feared Mumbai Police more than the “movie mafia”, and would prefer security either from Himachal Pradesh or the Centre.
Reacting strongly to her comment, Shiv Sena leader Raut purportedly said, “We kindly request her not to come to Mumbai. This is nothing but an insult to Mumbai Police.”
Hitting back, Ranaut tweeted, “Why is Mumbai feeling like Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir?”
The actor also tagged a September 1 news report on Raut asking her not to return to Mumbai if she was afraid of the city police.
Raut had on Friday urged the Maharashtra government to take action against people defaming the city police. He also asked Ranaut to tour PoK to see the situation there.
In a tweet stating that she would be returning to Mumbai on September 9, Ranaut had dared anyone to stop her. Sena MLA Saranik hit back with a slap threat and said she should be arrested for sedition.
Ranaut also asked Raut to apologise for his remarks against her. Raut on Sunday said he would consider doing so only if she apologises for her “insulting” remarks against Mumbai and Maharashtra.
The CRPF, the country’s largest paramilitary force, has been providing security to about 60 dignitaries and high-profile persons, including Amit Shah, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as well as her children Rahul and Priyanka.