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SPG, NSG and other security forces — How India protects its VIPs

Topics covered:

  1. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

 

SPG, NSG and other security forces — How India protects its VIPs

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Roles and features of various security forces.

For Mains: Need for and significance of these security forces.

 

Context: The Union government is expected to take away the security cover by Special Protection Group (SPG) being provided at present to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. They will, however, continue to get a Z+ security cover, where they will be provided commandos belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

 

How are security levels decided?

  • The Union Home Ministry takes this call after evaluating the inputs from all the intelligence agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
  • However, since none of the intelligence agencies is accountable to any external statutory body, barring internal oversight by ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs, the issue of security cover is open to manipulation.

 

Genesis of SPG:

  1. In March 1985, following the recommendations of a committee set up by the Home Ministry, a special unit was created for this purpose under the Cabinet Secretariat. This unit, initially called the Special Protection Unit, was renamed as Special Protection Group in April 1985.
  2. Subsequently, the Parliament passed The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act, which was notified in June 1988 “to provide for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and for matters connected therewith”.
  3. The SPG Act defined “proximate security” as “protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport” and to “include the places of functions, engagements, residence or halt”.
  4. Coverage: SPG protection was extended, apart from the Prime Minister, to “former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families” through an amendment in the Act in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.

 

Categories of security:

Besides the SPG, VIPs in India are protected by other security forces as well. The levels of security cover are determined by the threat perception around the individual.

  1. The highest level of security cover is the Z-plus category, followed by Z, Y, and X categories.
  2. The higher the level of cover, the larger the number of personnel protecting the individual.
  3. Roughly 24-36 personnel with automatic weapons are deployed for Z-plus category protectees and 16-20 personnel guard Z-category protectees.
  4. The elite ‘Black Cat’ commandos of the NSG are deployed to protect VIPs for whom the threat perception is the highest.

 

Sources: Indian Express.