The number of VIPs getting security cover may soon be whittled down with the home ministry set to review the list of names under the Centre’s protection. The review has been pending for over a year.
Ministry sources said that according to the Security Categorisation Committee (SCC) — headed by the home secretary — at least two dozen protectees including former home minister Buta Singh can stand to have their security covers pruned.
“At the moment there are around 250 central protectees under the security categories of Z+, Z, Y and X. We will soon initiate the process of reviewing this list,” said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.
Congress leaders such as former steel minister Beni Prasad Verma and MP Naveen Jindal, who had their security covers enhanced during home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s tenure, might have their protection details downgraded. About 18 names were added to the security list during Shinde’s tenure.
The number of guards attached to a security category is not fixed but rather depends on the threat perception to the VIP. Typically, 40 to 60 guards and at least two escort vehicles are provided in Z+ security.
Security officials told HT that providing guards to so many VIPs takes a toll on resources. There are also cases where NSG and CRPF troops have been roped in to provide a protection detail — a duty that is not a core responsibility for such forces.
The CRPF has even been forced to raise special infrastructure for VIP protection as it has been given the responsibility to provide security to 37 protectees.
“After the 26/11 attacks, it was decided that the NSG would be taken off VIP protection duties and the CISF would take over the job but that hasn’t happened. In fact, the NSG now has two more protectees – CMs Akhilesh Yadav and Raman Singh. At least one protectee whose NSG cover was replaced after 26/11 wants the force to give security again. We have resisted his pressure,” a home ministry official said.
Sources said the CISF has raised a specialised security wing for VIP protection but has demanded more resources as more names keep getting added to the list of protectees under its watch.