Special Protection Group (SPG): India

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[[Category:India |S ]]
 
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=The enabling legislation=
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==SPG Act, 2019==
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[https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/the-amended-spg-bill-all-you-need-to-know/articleshow/72348802.cms  The amended SPG Bill: All you need to know, December 3, 2019: ''The Times of India'']
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The SPG (Amendment) Bill that seeks to curtail the number of people to be provided cover by the elite Special Protection Group has been passed by Parliament. Rajya Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday amid walk out by several parties including the Congress. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on November 27 with a voice vote.
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The Congress has opposed the changes in the SPG Bill. The party has claimed political vendetta over the government's move. In Rajya Sabha it cited an alleged security breach at the residence of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, when seven unknown people in a car drove up to the porch of the Congress leader's Lodhi Estate home, got off and walked up to her to ask for photographs, to prove its point.
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'''Here is what the proposed bill is all about and the controversy surrounding it:'''
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The SPG (Amendment) Bill says that Special Protection Group will provide security to the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
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The bill also provides that SPG will give security to former Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him for five years from the date he ceases to hold the office.
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'''What were the provisions of the original Bill:'''
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The Special Protection Group (SPG) was raised with the intention to provide proximate security cover to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members.
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The Special Protection Group Act, 1988 was enacted to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members.
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'''Previous amendments to the Bill:'''
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The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former prime ministers and their immediate family members also, for different periods of time from the day the Prime Minister demitted office.
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It was last amended in 2003 to extend the SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for one year from demitting of office of prime minister and thereafter based on the level of threat periodically assessed by security agencies.
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'''Why is the Congress opposing the changes to the SPG Bill:'''
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The Centre's move has been strongly opposed by the Congress which claims that the government is targeting the Gandhi family.
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The Centre last month replaced the SPG (Special Protection Group) cover of the family of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, with 'Z-plus' security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force.
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'''What is the government's response to Congress's charges:'''
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Union home minister Amit Shah denied any vindictive action in the change of security of the Gandhis and said the security of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka have not been withdrawn but changed to 'Z-plus' with ambulance.
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Government says Gandhis have travelled without SPG several times:
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Amit Shah said after 2015, Rahul Gandhi has travelled 1,892 times in India and 247 times abroad without informing the SPG.
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Govt said Sonia Gandhi had travelled 50 times in Delhi, 13 times in various parts of India and 29 times abroad without informing the SPG.
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Priyanka Gandhi had travelled 339 times in Delhi without taking the SPG cover, 64 times in different parts of the country and 94 times abroad, Amit Shah said.
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(Compiled from agencies)
  
 
=SPG vs Z+ security: the difference=
 
=SPG vs Z+ security: the difference=

Latest revision as of 09:41, 4 December 2019

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Contents

[edit] The enabling legislation

[edit] SPG Act, 2019

The amended SPG Bill: All you need to know, December 3, 2019: The Times of India


The SPG (Amendment) Bill that seeks to curtail the number of people to be provided cover by the elite Special Protection Group has been passed by Parliament. Rajya Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday amid walk out by several parties including the Congress. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on November 27 with a voice vote.

The Congress has opposed the changes in the SPG Bill. The party has claimed political vendetta over the government's move. In Rajya Sabha it cited an alleged security breach at the residence of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, when seven unknown people in a car drove up to the porch of the Congress leader's Lodhi Estate home, got off and walked up to her to ask for photographs, to prove its point.


Here is what the proposed bill is all about and the controversy surrounding it:

The SPG (Amendment) Bill says that Special Protection Group will provide security to the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.

The bill also provides that SPG will give security to former Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him for five years from the date he ceases to hold the office.


What were the provisions of the original Bill:

The Special Protection Group (SPG) was raised with the intention to provide proximate security cover to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members.

The Special Protection Group Act, 1988 was enacted to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members.


Previous amendments to the Bill:

The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former prime ministers and their immediate family members also, for different periods of time from the day the Prime Minister demitted office.

It was last amended in 2003 to extend the SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for one year from demitting of office of prime minister and thereafter based on the level of threat periodically assessed by security agencies.


Why is the Congress opposing the changes to the SPG Bill:

The Centre's move has been strongly opposed by the Congress which claims that the government is targeting the Gandhi family.

The Centre last month replaced the SPG (Special Protection Group) cover of the family of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, with 'Z-plus' security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force.


What is the government's response to Congress's charges:

Union home minister Amit Shah denied any vindictive action in the change of security of the Gandhis and said the security of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka have not been withdrawn but changed to 'Z-plus' with ambulance.

Government says Gandhis have travelled without SPG several times:

Amit Shah said after 2015, Rahul Gandhi has travelled 1,892 times in India and 247 times abroad without informing the SPG.

Govt said Sonia Gandhi had travelled 50 times in Delhi, 13 times in various parts of India and 29 times abroad without informing the SPG.

Priyanka Gandhi had travelled 339 times in Delhi without taking the SPG cover, 64 times in different parts of the country and 94 times abroad, Amit Shah said.

(Compiled from agencies)

[edit] SPG vs Z+ security: the difference

November 8, 2019: Deccan Herald


The Central Government stripped the Special Protection Guard (SPG) security from the Congress's first family, according to official sources.

As of Nov. 8, the Gandhi family members - Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vandra - will receive Z+ level protection from the agencies.

This means that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the only person with SPG-level security.

But wait, what's the di!erence between SPG and Z+ protection? Let's take a look:


Security levels in India

The Indian security system provides protection to VIPs and VVIPs based on information provided by the Intelligence Bureau. Police and local governments provide security as specified under various levels, according to information received.

The personalities are entitled to the security either due to an administrative position or through filing an application regarding threats at the police station that's closest to their residence. Once the threat is confirmed, the category of security is decided by the Home Secretary, Director General and the Chief Secretary in the state. The details are sent to the Union Home Ministry for formal approval.

Categories

SPG: A classified security detail, given exclusively to the Prime Minister.

Z+: 55 personnel

Z: 22 personnel

Y: 11 personnel

X: 2 personnel


What is the SPG?

The SPG is one of the many agencies - such as the NSG (National Security Guard), the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) and the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) - that safeguard important people with promininent positions.

The SPG, a force of 3,000 active personnel at present, was formed in April 1985, a"er Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards in October 1984.

A"er being reviewed by a committee of secretaries, the SPG came into force as a single unit controlled by a designated o!icial to provide security to the PM both in New Delhi and outside.

The security detail can be taken on or declined by the people concerned.


What is the SPG?

The SPG is one of the many agencies - such as the NSG (National Security Guard), the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) and the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) - that safeguard important people with promininent positions.

The SPG, a force of 3,000 active personnel at present, was formed in April 1985, a"er Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards in October 1984.

A"er being reviewed by a committee of secretaries, the SPG came into force as a single unit controlled by a designated o!icial to provide security to the PM both in New Delhi and outside.

The security detail can be taken on or declined by the people concerned.


What is Z+ security?

The second highest level of security provided in India, with 55 personnel that includes 10 NSG Commandos and police.

They are highly trained and proficient in martial arts. They are equipped with sophisticated MP5 guns and modern communication gadgets.

The NSG or CISF personnel are deployed in full force within the state, whereas when they travel outside, only a few commandos travel with the person being secured. The destination state then takes over responsibility for the security detail.

PM Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and a few others are provided Z+ security. This list now includes the Gandhi family.

[edit] History of usage

[edit] 1980s to Nov 2019

Gandhis’ security not compromised: Shah, November 28, 2019: The Times of India


The passage of the bill to amend the SPG Act was marked by sharp political exchanges in Lok Sabha, with home minister Amit Shah accusing Congress of being bothered about its first family’s status rather than an objective security assessment amid the opposition party’s accusations of political vendetta.


The minister said the Gandhis had violated SPG guidelines repeatedly, often travelling abroad without cover, and wondered what could be the reason. Though he did not name the person, he said a member of the Gandhi family was in the habit of driving expensive motorbikes in central Delhi, leaving his cover to keep pace.

He asked why the Gandhi family (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka) travelled abroad over 600 times without taking SPG into the loop over the years.

The Congress charged that Prime Minister Modi violated security considerations when he took a ride on a sea-plane at the end of the campaign for 2017 Gujarat polls

Earlier, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the reason to remove SPG protection is that ‘number of individuals to be provided SPG cover can potentially become quite large’. Same reason was given to remove security cover of Rajiv Gandhi. The SPG protectees were told in June [2019] that threat assessment was increasing, but has changed since, he added.

Sharing specifics, Shah said Rahul Gandhi had travelled 1,892 times in India and 247 times abroad without informing SPG after 2015. Similarly, Sonia Gandhi had travelled 50 times in Delhi, 13 times in various parts of India and 29 times abroad without informing SPG while Priyanka Gandhi had travelled 339 times in Delhi, 64 times within the country and 94 times abroad without SPG cover, he added.

The new Act will restrict cover to PMs in office and their proximate families in the official residence. This cover will end five years after demitting office.”

Taking a dig at Congress members, the home minister asked why didn’t they utter a word when SPG security cover was withdrawn from former PMs Chandra Shekhar, I K Gujral, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

Noting that the bill is not being amended for the first time but was done in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 as well, he said all those amendments were, however, made keeping “one family in mind”.

[edit] Withdrawal of SPG cover

[edit] 2019: The Gandhi family

Bharti Jain, Gandhis’ Z+ cover to be similar to home minister’s, November 9, 2019: The Times of India

Why the SPG ‘cover’ of the Gandhi family was withdrawn in 2019
From: Bharti Jain, Gandhis’ Z+ cover to be similar to home minister’s, November 9, 2019: The Times of India


While the Gandhis’ SPG cover was withdrawn by the government, sources said there have been several instances when each of the three members of the Gandhi family — Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka — failed to cooperate with the SPG by choosing to travel in non-bullet-resistant vehicles and undertook foreign visits unaccompanied by officers, often informing the force of their plans at the eleventh hour.

Their new Z-plus security cover by CRPF will be similar to that provided to VIPs like home minister Amit Shah.

The SPG was set up in 1985 with the purpose of protecting the Prime Minister. The force was conceptualised in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. While SPG Act originally covered only the PM and immediate family, it has since been amended from time to time. Ex-PMs and their kin were made eligible for the first time in 1991.

Sources indicated a proposal to limit eligibility for SPG — a highly-trained force that is self-sufficient with its own high-tech equipment and aids including cars like BMWs and sophisticated arms, and also with statutory backing to make the state police conform to its requirements — was initiated in 2012-13 itself.

The justification for trimming was that since SPG is expensive, it needs to factor in every contingency including terror threats and cannot leave anything to chance, and weeding out as many protectees as possible would gear the force to the task of protecting those with the highest threat perception, such as the PM.

“I am not privy to the sensitive inputs (on threat perception of the Gandhis) and cannot comment except that in the perception of security and intelligence agencies, their threat quotient has gone down to the extent that such a removal is warranted,” Yashovardhan Azad, a former IPS officer, said.

Sources in the CRPF said takeover of the Gandhi family’s security from SPG may easily take a week to 10 days, with SPG likely to help out with men and material, including cars and jammers that are not readily available with CRPF. “A joint security review by officials of SPG, CRPF, IB and Delhi Police will be held soon to assess details relating to the takeover,” said an officer.

The officer said the transition of the Gandhis’ security detail from SPG to CRPF could mean fewer personnel, possibly fewer and less fancy vehicles (though two BMWs were sanctioned for CRPF in Manmohan Singh’s case), relatively less sophisticated arms and higher dependence on state police during the Gandhis’ visits outside Delhi.

In 1988, the SPG Act was passed extending protection of the force to only the PM, an office then occupied by Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv’s cover was withdrawn when the V P Singh government took over in 1989. However, when the former was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber in 1991, the P V Narasimha Rao government amended the SPG Act to include ex-PMs and their kin as eligible protectees for 10 years after demitting office.

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