New Delhi: The home ministry is considering whether to deploy Central Industrial Security Force or CISF personnel along the arterial highways of North India after a spate of incidents exposed gaps in security.

Off the Delhi-Jaipur highway, in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old man, was lynched to death by a mob of alleged gau rakshaks or cow protectors on 1 April.

On 25 May, a group of five men attacked a family on the Jewar-Bulandshahr highway, raping four women and killing a family member. Earlier, on 31 July 2016, a woman and her daughter were raped on the Bulandshahr highway.

With such serious crimes showing highway security in the country in a very poor light, the home ministry has dusted off a 17-year-old proposal for the deployment of CISF personnel along the country’s highways.

“Highway security is of prime concern because of several incidents which have been happening. They are of great worry because people who ply on these roads do not feel safe and we are trying our best to secure these roads. The proposal is in consideration and is being looked into," a home ministry official said.

In 2000, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) wrote to the home ministry saying, “NHAI feels that to safeguard and protect national highways, deployment of CISF would be a good option. We wish to undertake deployment of Delhi section of National Highway-8 as a pilot project and would request CISF to take necessary steps in this." A copy of the letter has been reviewed by Mint.

In 2001, the home ministry decided to entrust the responsibility of highway security along the Delhi-Jaipur highway to the CISF and instructed the force to draft a formal proposal in consultation with NHAI.

Additionally, according to the NHAI letter, the home ministry had sanctioned 192 posts for the security deployment of the Delhi-Jaipur stretch.

But on 31 October 2002, the project was abruptly shelved.

“The project was put on the back-burner because the state police personnel in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab put up stiff resistance. Highways patrolling can yield benefits by way of exacting a commission from trucks and other consignments which are transported," said a senior home ministry official, on condition of anonymity.

NHAI had also asked the home ministry for CISF deployment along the highway running through the Jammu region. However, this proposal too was shelved.

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