After former Assam CMs Tarun Gogoi and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta accused BJP-led Centre of “political vendetta” over withdrawal of their NSG cover, the Union Home Ministry has restored their Z-plus category security by replacing NSG with CRPF security guards, said officials. Both Gogoi and Mahanta enjoyed elite NSG cover due to threat to their lives from insurgent groups. Their security cover was downgraded last year, soon after the BJP-led government by Sarbananda Sonowal came to power, based on the assessment by intelligence agencies. Sonowal was recently accorded NSG cover by the Home Ministry based on the intelligence reports that he faces threat from militants groups in the Northeast.
WATCH | Trouble For BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, Election Commission Sends Notice
DG CRPF K Durga Prasad said, “We are providing security to as many as 68 VIPs including Gogoi and Mahanta.” Home Ministry officials said the move to withdraw NSG security of Gogoi and Mahanta was taken in an attempt to streamline government’s efforts to stop the specialised counter-terror force from performing VIP security duty.
A senior government official on the condition of anonymity said, “The decision to reassess the security cover was taken after both the senior leaders from Assam petitioned Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. It was later decided that they will be given security cover by CPRF of Z-plus mobile category, which means they will be sanctioned security only when they are on the move and not when they are at their residences.”
Mahanta, soon after the withdrawal of security cover, had alleged that his NSG cover was removed for being vocal against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which aims to give citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh. Under Z-plus category, as many as 40-45 commandos are deployed to provide cover, while Z category entitles 25 security guards. Similarly, a Y category protectee gets 10-12 guards and X is entitled for 2.
Besides Mahanta and Gogoi, CRPF recently accorded security to UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, BJP MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj, Kerala BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan, former Kerala BJP chief P K Krishnadas, Kerala BJP general secretaries M T Ramesh and K Surendran.
The decision to give security cover to Kerala BJP top brass was taken following arrests of militants from Madurai who owed allegiance to BASE movement that is pledged to the Al Qaida. From the literature seized from these suspects, NIA has discovered names of BJP leaders in Kerala who were on their ‘hit-list.’ They have been given CRPF security of Z and Y category depending upon the threat perception, an official added.