Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will review “threat perception” to political leaders extended security by central forces ahead of general elections, the deputy national security advisor (NSA) said Wednesday.
Based on the review, officials said the politicians provided VIP security could see a considerable increase. There are around 115 political leaders, such as Narendra Modi, L K Advani, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, J Jayalalithaa, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Beni Prasad Verma, who have been given mobile security cover by central forces like the Central reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Security Guard (NSG).
The Special Protection Group (SPG) provides security to the Prime Minister, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Robert Vadra and former PMs.
Deputy NSA Nehchal Singh Sandhu, on the sidelines of a function, said, “The MHA is reviewing security to political leaders. It was done before the general elections in 2004 and also in 2009.”
VVIP security is decided by a committee comprising Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials, home secretary and the home minister. Sometimes security cover is provided on recommendation of the state government.
Counter-terror force NSG provides security to 17 VVIPs including BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and is working to provide an SPG-like security cover. NSG chief Jayanto N Choudhury said he had recently written to MHA that NSG should undergo an “audit” of its functioning along with VVIP security tasks, like the SPG.
“We provide security to 17 VVIPs more or less like SPG. We are making efforts so that that they can have security close to SPG coverage,” Choudhury said. He said as SPG functions under an Act, it has better resources and manpower.
He said they were undertaking complete “review” of security of VVIPs under their command. “We have written to state governments that standard operating procedures be diligently followed by state police units and other agencies involved during movement of high-risk personalities,” said Chowdhury.
The DG said NSG has written to state governments for making bomb disposal teams effective to sanitise “public congregation” venues where the VIPs under security cover move.
The tenure of Sushil Kumar Shinde as Union Home Minister has seen VIP protection being given to 24 political as well as business personalities. P Chidambaram, when he was Home Minister, pruned the number of people who enjoy this VIP status.
‘Z’ category security involves deployment of around 50 policemen at one point of time.
“Since it is election season there is increased movement… We have to mobilise our forces in states where VIPs travel to and sometimes do not have adequate personnel with us,” said an official.
In June last year, the government set a precedent when it asked CRPF to provide protection to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani for a fee.