‘Thank you for protecting me, my family’: Rahul to SPG after security downgradedhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/rahul-gandhi-spg-protection-crpf-z-plus-security-6110507/

‘Thank you for protecting me, my family’: Rahul to SPG after security downgraded

"A big thank you to all my brothers and sisters in the SPG who worked tirelessly to protect me and my family over the years," the Congress leader said in a tweet.

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The Gandhi family will be without SPG protection for the first time in 28 years. The family was included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988. (File/Express photo)

Hours after the Centre withdrew the elite SPG protection granted to the Gandhi family, party leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet expressed his gratitude to the members of SPG forces for their dedication and support.

“A big thank you to all my brothers and sisters in the SPG who worked tirelessly to protect me and my family over the years,” the Congress leader said in a tweet.

“Thank you for your dedication, your constant support & for a journey filled with affection & learning. It has been a privilege. All the best for a great future,” he added.

The Gandhi family will now be provided with CRPF Z-plus cover instead. They will be without SPG protection for the first time in 28 years. The family was included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988.

Explained: What is SPG protection and who gets it?

The government’s decision to withdraw the SPG cover given to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, was taken after a detailed security assessment, news agency PTI reported.

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The SPG was started in 1985 in the wake of the killing of PM Indira Gandhi in 1984. When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. But after Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to offer protection to all former PMs and their families for at least 10 years.

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The Gandhi family will now be provided with CRPF Z-plus cover instead. (File/PTI)

The decision to remove the SPG saw angry reactions from Congress leaders with Gandhi’s close aide Ahmed Patel describing the move as “descended to the ultimate personal vendetta mechanism” by the BJP government.

Several Congress workers also staged a protest outside Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence in Delhi against the decision.

Earlier 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”.

Officials 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.

In August this year, the government also withdrew the SPG cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.