The Centre has ordered the Central Industrial Security Force(CISF) to provide round-the-clock protection to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat. He was a Z-plus protectee since 2012 and his safety was Maharashtra police’s responsibility until now.
The previous UPA government had elevated Bhagwat’s security cover to Z-plus, asking Maharashtra police to deploy necessary personnel along with the CISF.
But the CISF’s Special Security Group(SSG) never took on the responsibility. It was not only short on manpower but wanted unambiguous control. “It is always better if only one force is given the responsibility,” a CISF officer said.
The issue was hanging fire for the past year, despite the change of guard at the Centre.
The Union home ministry recently asked the CISF to take full charge of his protection, sources said. Home ministry officials said the 64-year-old RSS Sarsanghchalak would be guarded by an elite squad of the CISF, taking over from Maharashtra police personnel.
The Special Security Group, the VVIP commando unit of CISF, is armed with sophisticated weapons like AK-series rifles and is equipped with latest gadgets for communication and anti-sabotage tasks. This unit is also identified as the “centre of excellence” for VVIP security in the country. SSG has nearly 1,200 personnel and protects 50 VVIPs.
As part of the security cover, Bhagwat will have about 60 commandos round-the-clock to protect him. Sources said vehicles in Bhagwat’s convoy would also change in accordance with protocol and guidelines for Z-plus protectees.
BJP president Amit Shah as well as several government functionaries and politicians get Z-plus cover, which is just a notch lower in detail than the safety shield offered to the President, Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, among a handful, by the Special Protection Group(SPG).