The murderous attack on Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Vishwanath Shetty in his office on Wednesday by an intruder exposes a serious lapse of security on the premises of an important institution of the State. The attacker had easy and unhindered access to the Lokayukta's room, without being stopped or questioned by anyone about his presence there. He had reconnoitered the place and surroundings for a few days before Wednesday without anyone noticing. In a security-conscious place and environment, his presence would have been noticed and he would have been questioned. Ultimately it was only Justice Shetty's luck and the reflex action of the door assistant in the office, who caught hold of the assailant after he had stabbed the Lokayukta many times, that saved the latter's life. He was grievously injured in the attack. The incident has raised serious questions about the lax attitude of the entire security establishment and the government.
Both the police and the government are responsible and answerable for the failure. The metal detector in the Lokayukta's office has not been working for years, and there was no manual frisking of visitors. Other security measures and the number of personnel on duty were all inadequate. Though the Lokayukta's office wrote a number of letters to the police for enhancement of security, no action was taken. Former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde had also brought the poor state of security to the notice of the authorities. There were intelligence alerts about threats to the Lokayukta. But the establishment was unmoved. Such a casual and cavalier attitude to the security of important State institutions is criminal. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the lives of officials, and even of ordinary citizens when there is a threat. The Lokayukta handles sensitive matters and so would be a natural target for those affected by its work, disgruntled elements or others. It is only after an untoward incident that the need for security has been realised.
One police official, a DCP, has been suspended for dereliction of duty, but it will be wrong if only he is held accountable for the lapse. All those who ignored the request for better security should be made answerable for their lapse. The security of political authorities, for whom it is more a matter of ego and status than a real need, gets high priority in our country. Those who face risks in the course of their duties hardly get any protection. It is not even unlikely that the heightened security at the Lokayukta's office will ease in the weeks to come and things will get back to the old normal.