Manmohan Singh’s security cover downgraded
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s security cover has been downgraded to Z Plus. Until now, the two-time prime minister has been protected by the elite Special Protection Group (SPG).
“The current security cover review is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception that is purely based on professional assessment by security agencies. Dr. Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z+ security cover, “ a ministry of home affairs spokesperson said in reply to a query from HT.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said such decisions should be taken as per norms. “The MHA has reviewed and withdrawn the security cover. They have also given a reason for doing this. But my point is that security cover should not be withdrawn selectively, just because Singh was a prime minister of the Congress government,” Chowdhury told news agency PTI.
Security agencies like the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing, the external intelligence agency, carry out an assessment of threat perception and make recommendations to the government on increasing or decreasing security cover for a dignitary. There are about 450 people on the central protectee list.
The SPG — a 3,500 strong group—was formed after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984. The security cover was extended to former prime ministers after her son and successor Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated when he was on the campaign trail in May 1991.
Of the various security categories, SPG cover is the most exhaustive, followed by Z Plus.
Visits by people under SPG protection and the venues they intend to go to are cleared in advance by the agency after consultations with the local police. The SPG provides the inner cordon security whereas the local police secures the outer cordon.
The number of policemen deployed to protect a Z Plus protectee depends on the threat perception. For instance, late Tamil Nadu chief minister of J Jayalalithaa, who faced multiple threats including from Sri Lankan Tamil guerrillas, was protected by up to 60 NSG commandos.
This isn’t the first time that the security cover of a former prime minister has been downgraded. The security cover offered to former prime minister HD Devegowda too had been similarly lowered.