New Delhi: Days after the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of Gandhis was revoked, the Narendra Modi-led Centre is reportedly mulling to withdraw the SPG cover of former Prime Ministers and their family members. Notably, the government is set to table SPG amendment Bill next week in the ongoing winter session of the Parliament under which security will be provided to sitting PM only.
As per the reports, the decision was taken after several security agencies carried out a threat perception assessment and found there was no direct threat to them.
Officials in the Home Ministry also apprised that the strength of the SPG would also be reduced. Reports said that there are 3,500 men in the group till now but now after the Bill will be table , the SPG will become leaner in strength. The SPG protectees are provided with guards, hi-tech vehicles, jammers and an ambulance in their cavalcade. With the latest move, PM Narendra Modi will be the lone person to be protected by the about-4,000-personnel-strong SPG.
Earlier this month, the SPG security of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was removed. In August, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur’s protection was withdrawn.
About Special Protection Group
The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988, dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Minister. At the time, the Act did not include former Prime Ministers.
When VP Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. However, in 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to ‘a period of one year from the date on which the former prime minister ceased to hold office’ and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.
The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks amendment to the Special Protection Group Act, 1988 which provides for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing “proximate security” to the Prime Minister and the former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families and for matters connected therewith.
(With agency inputs)