New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) After recently withdrawing the VVIP security cover of NSG commandos to former Assam chief ministers Tarun Gogoi and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the Centre has now accorded them a scaled down cover of ‘Z+’ VVIP security by central paramilitary CRPF.

The Union Home Ministry, in orders issued few days back, has asked the CRPF to take over the security duties of both the politicians from the National Security Guard (NSG).

The NSG had tasked about 50 commandos for this task for the two.

The government, officials said, has scaled down the categorisation of the new cover accorded to Gogoi and Mahanta by keeping it as ‘Z+ mobile’, which means the security personnel will not be protecting the residential premises of the two ex-chief ministers but securing them only when they travel.

There are two categories under the top ‘Z+’ cover which includes securing the residential premises while the other entails only ‘mobile security’, as in this latest case.

While Gogoi had been enjoying the NSG cover since 2007, Mahanta, also the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) President, was being secured by the elite ‘black cat’ commandos of the NSG for a long number of years and officials said the cover of both the leaders was withdrawn after a recent meeting of the threat assessment committee in the MInistry of Home Affairs, which suggested their covers to be scaled down.

They said the task was transferred to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as the country’s largest paramilitaty has a full-fledged VVIP security unit under it and as per a plan being executed, in a phased manner, it is envisaged to free the NSG from VVIP security duties so that it can focus on its core tasks of counter-terror and counter-hijack operations.

The CRPF will take over the new task with the two politicians in the next few days.

With this reduction of duties , the NSG has an all-time low number of VVIPs under its cover at 13.

Gogoi, after his cover was withdrawn in December last year, had written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh alleging the decision was taken based on “political reasons” which is “discriminatory.”

The 1984-raised NSG has not been taking anymore VVIP security duties since 2014 and those under its cover currently include Home Minister Rajnath Singh, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, former UP CM Mayawati annd senior BJP leader L K Advani among others.

Recently, another NSG protectee, Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa, had passed away and the NSG cover stood withdrawn automatically.

The concept to reduce VVIP security duties of the elite force was mooted in 2012-13 when the force decided to pull out about 900 commandos from serving VVIP security duties and train them for specialised operational tasks of counter-terror and counter-hijack operations for which NSG was originally raised and was called the federal contingency force.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.