The Gandhi family is to lose its SPG (Special Protection Group) security cover, as part of a security rejig, and will be given Z+ security cover, with the SPG security only henceforth being provided to the sitting Prime Minister and President. Sources informed Republic TV that a major change can be expected in the SPG cover procedures by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in accordance with the SPG Act which will be amended in Parliament. In-principle approval for the changes was given in a meeting of the MHA last month, sources added, even as the Congress politicised the issue, alleging 'vendetta'.
However, while the SPG will no longer be providing security to the Gandhis, they will get ample 'Z+' security from the CRPF. Here is what that will entail:
The SPG (Special Protection Group) was set up in 1985, a year after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own bodyguards. The Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988 dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Minister. However, after the suicide bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Parliament amended the Act to provide proximate security cover to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members.
The SPG has active cooperation with other security agencies like the Intelligence Bureau and the state or Union Territory police forces. SPG units are trained with the best standards for security and have access to necessary arms, equipment and technology. The strength of the elite unit is highly classified. The soldiers of SPG are endowed with FNF-2000 Assault Rifle, Automatic Gun and 17 M revolvers like modern weapons. SPG officers have been so far awarded by one Shaurya Chakra, 39 President's Police Medals for distinguished service and 297 Police Medals for Meritorious Service. SPG also has the honour of its first Director Subramanian being awarded the Padma Shri.
The Z+ security level is a notch below the SPG. This level of security is provided by National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, also known as 'black cats' owing to their black outfit and black cat insignia worn on their uniform. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) also has its men part of the unit. The teams are armed with advanced guns and modern communication equipment, and each member of the team is adept in martial arts and unarmed combat skills. This cover is given to VVIPs (Very Very Important Person) and as per reports provides protection to just over a dozen individuals in the country. Hence, the Gandhi family will now be protected by NSG and CRPF commandos.
Security is provided on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of threat by the security agencies under the Home Ministry. There is a system of periodic review of the security provided to threatened persons on the basis of the latest threat perception by two Committees, consisting of security experts as members. State Governments are also constantly sensitized by the Ministry of Home Affairs about security concerning threatened individuals and their movements. In this regard advisories containing threat, inputs are communicated to the concerned State Government from time to time as required.