| NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, April 22
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, April 22 The Indian government
has agreed to provide billionaire Mukesh Ambani with top-level
security cover following threats to his life, an interior
ministry spokesman said on Monday.
The country's richest man, who controls the Reliance
Industries Ltd conglomerate, personally requested the
"Z Category" security that is usually reserved for politicians
and top-level civil servants.
The government has not yet decided whether Ambani will pay
the government for the services, and how many policemen will
guard the billionaire, Home Ministry spokesman H. Rahman said.
A source familiar with the issue, who declined to be named,
said Ambani may pay the government up to 900,000 rupees
($16,600) a month for protection by armed commandos.
Ambani received a handwritten letter about two months ago
that threatened an attack at his $1 billion Mumbai residence. He
added that the Islamist group Indian Mujahideen was suspected of
sending the letter, but investigations were still under way.
Social media websites were abuzz with criticism of the move,
with many questioning why highly trained commandos should
protect a private citizen.
Among them was Arvind Kejriwal, an anti-graft activist, who
told Reuters: "He is such a rich man. He can hire the best
security agencies. Why does the government need to provide him
"None of the political parties is opposing this move. This
clearly shows Mukesh Ambani is in the good books of all
political parties," Kejriwal added.
Reliance already provides protection for Ambani, whose
personal worth Forbes magazine has put at $21.5 billion, the
source said. However, the company lacks government intelligence
and, by law, private security guards are not allowed to carry
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 ruling
Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, news network NDTV said.
($1 = 54.0750 Indian rupees)
(Editing by John Chalmers and Ken Wills)