All VIP protection duties should be entrusted to a new agency that should develop special expertise for the job, says National Security Guard (NSG) chief J K Dutt.
"VIP protection duties should be handed over to a unified agency or a new agency can be created on a par with the Central Industrial Security Force (constituted for the protection of public sector units and installations)," Dutt told IANS.
"The unified agency or the new agency can then develop special expertise in protecting the VIPs. It would be great in the larger interest of the VIPs as well."
The NSG director general said it is up to the central government to decide whether the time has come to review VIP security. "If economics allow them to set up such agency, then they should go ahead with it."
The demand comes in the wake of a public outcry over the government spending billions in VIP security even as the public was left defenceless from terror attacks. There has also been a lot of criticism of misuse of NSG commandos for bodyguard duty of politicians and other protected persons.
The NSG, which was set up in 1984 for anti hijack and anti terror operations, has two wings - the Special Action Group (SAG) the Special Rangers Group (SRG), comprising select men from the Indo Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and other paramilitary forces.
More than half of SRG personnel are deployed for VIP security.
The force came into international spotlight when it stormed the sites that were attacked by terrorists in Mumbai last month. Nine of the 10 terrorists were gunned down by the NSG commandos.
The elite Black Cat commandos rescued hundreds of hostages in an operation that lasted nearly 60 hours. A total of 174 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed in the most audacious terror attack on the country, which lasted from Nov 26 to 29.
There are around 400 guarded VIPs in the national capital alone. Around 15,000 Delhi Police personnel out of its strength of 60,000 guard the VIPs, who include ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, judges, religious leaders, lawyers and a few journalists.
This is in addition to the Special Protection Group (SPG) that is exclusively meant for providing security to the prime minister, former prime ministers and members of the Gandhi family. Over 45,000 policemen guard over 13,000 VIPs across the country.
There is an estimate that approximately Rs.6 billion of taxpayers' money is spent annually on the salary of the security staff involved in such duties. The SPG has seen its 2008-09 budget go up from Rs.1.17 billion to Rs.1.80 billion, while the NSG had its budget marginally reduced from Rs.1.59 billion to Rs.1.58 billion.
After P. Chidambaram was appointed home minister, security cover to at least 50 VIPs has reportedly been scaled down as the intelligence agencies made fresh assessments of security threats to ministers and other politicians.