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Gandhi family stripped off SPG cover: Know who gets SPG protection

The Gandhi family members will be without SPG cover for the first time after 28 years. 

Nov 8, 2019 17:36 IST
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Gandhi family stripped off SPG cover: The Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover provided to Gandhi family members including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi was withdrawn by the Union Government on November 8, 2019. Now, only Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be provided with the SPG security cover.

The Gandhi family will now be provided with Z plus security cover. Under Z plus security, the Gandhi's will be protected by the National Security Guards or the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

The decision was taken after getting the feedback from all relevant agencies at the highest-level security review meeting of the Home Ministry. The SPG security cover is reviewed every year after assessing all the possible threats, as per sources.

SPG protection: All you need to know

What is SPG Security Cover?

The special protection group was constituted on April 8, 1985 as the highest tier of security. The decision to constitute the group was taken after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984. 

Who gets SPG Security Cover?

Initially, the SPG was raised to provide proximate security to the Indian Prime Minister and their immediate family members. The SPG Act was amended in 1991 to provide security cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate families after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1992.

Why was Rajiv Gandhi's SPG cover withdrawn?

The SPG, which was constituted and trained specially to protect Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the view of the threats against him, was withdrawn after he ceased to be Prime Minister.

Who can decline SPG security?

The former Prime Ministers, their immediate family members and the family members of the Prime Minister can choose to decline the SPG security.

What is Z plus security?

The Z plus security cover includes protection by National Security Guard commandos, CRPF personnel, ITBP and the Delhi police. Those who fall under the Z plus security category are provided with a security cover comprising at least 55 personnel and one escort car.

President of India security

The President of India does not come under the SPG security cover due to low threat perception. The President is protected by the Indian Army's PBG (President's Bodyguard) regiment. The PBG regiment is one of the oldest and one of the last remaining cavalry regiments in the world.

Background

Rahul Gandhi was criticized, in many instances, for not letting SPG accompany him in foreign visits. According to reports, out of Gandhi’s 156 abroad trips, he did not take the SPG with him for 143 trips.

Then in October 2019, the government made it mandatory for the SPG personnel to accompany Gandhi’s on all their trips at all times, even during their personal trips.

The SPG security cover for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was removed similarly in August 2019 after assessments indicated reduced threat perceptions. He has also been given Z-plus category security cover.

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