The Centre withdrew the Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover given to the Gandhi family Friday. They will now be provided with CRPF Z-plus cover instead.
The decision to provide the type of protection is taken by the Home Ministry based on inputs from intelligence agencies, which include the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing (RA&W).
The move comes months after former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s SPG security cover was withdrawn. According to MHA sources, the security cover of the former prime minister was downgraded based on report from intelligence agencies, which do not perceive threat of an attack on him grave enough to warrant SPG cover.
In October, after scrutinising details of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s security protocol as devised by the Special Protection Group (SPG), the government had identified “gaps that raise concern”.
Official had found out that since 2015, there have been 1,892 occasions (until May 2019) when Gandhi did not travel in a bullet-resistant (BR) vehicle in Delhi — this works out to at least once a day. Government sources also said that the Congress leader has also been reluctant to use SPG cover abroad.
There are largely six types of security covers: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus and SPG. While SPG is meant only for the PM and his immediate family, other categories can be provided to anyone about whom the Centre or state governments have inputs about facing a threat.
‘Ultimate personal vendetta’
Calling the government’s move ‘ultimate personal vendetta’, Congress leader Ahmed Patel said that the step to withdraw security compromises the lives of family members of two former prime ministers.
The BJP has descended to the ultimate personal vendetta mechanism, compromising the lives of family members of 2 Former Prime Ministers to acts of terror and violence.
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) November 8, 2019
“The BJP has descended to the ultimate personal vendetta mechanism, compromising the lives of family members of 2 Former Prime Ministers to acts of terror and violence,” Patel said in a tweet.
‘Modi, Shah blinded by personal revenge’
Congress leader KC Venugopal alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are blinded by personal revenge, political vendetta in withdrawing SPG cover from Gandhi family.
KC Venugopal, Congress: PM Modi & Home Minister Amit Shah has been blinded by personal revenge & political vendetta. This is proved by unceremonious withdrawal of SPG cover of ma’am Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. pic.twitter.com/BJC8aBua6I
— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2019
“Two former PMs of India, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were murdered and it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who amended the law to give the family of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG cover. Modi and Shah have undone it now,” Venugopal said during a media briefing.
Meanwhile, Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said that the decision to remove the SPG cover is “shocking and vindictive”.
“It makes the family vulnerable. Not to forget that two members of the family former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated. The state has a duty to protect and the SPG cover was not a favour,” he said.
Delhi: Congress workers protest near Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence against Govt’s decision to withdraw SPG cover from the Gandhi family pic.twitter.com/OXy5WFFEef
— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2019
Several Congress workers also staged a protest outside Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence in Delhi against the decision.