By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, Sep 16 : Days after his Special Protection Group (SPG) cover was withdrawn, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday got protective cover from CRPF commandos in the downgraded Z+ category.
Singh, along with his wife Gursharan Kaur, will have 35 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) security cover round-the-clock at his 3, Motilal Nehru Road residence and during their movement across the country.
Altogether, over 50 armed commandos will be available for their security and they will be deployed in shifts.
An anti-sabotage team, including a dog squad, will be the part of the Z+ cover, an official in know of the arrangements told IANS, adding this team makes three minimum rounds in 24-hours of the vicinity where the person under Z+ protection stays.
The place where Singh and his wife would stay during their visit outside Delhi will be guarded by the CRPF commandos in “three layers”.
As per Z+ rule, the CRPF would coordinate with the state police concerned, the intelligence team, the event organisers and the Public Works Department (PWD) before the visit of Singh, who served as Prime Minister for 10 years between 2004 and 2014.
The CRPF would also take man support from its 23 Z+ units across the country, if needed, said the official, requesting anonymity.
After a routine assessment of the inputs received from all agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs in August took the decision to curtail Manmohan Singh’s SPG security and provide him a Z+ security cover.
Government sources said it was observed that the former Prime Minister is not concerned about the level of security he has.
The Ministry had taken the decision as per security cover review, which is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception and was “purely” based on professional assessment by security agencies.
The SPG, which comprises an elite force personnel of 3,000 officers, is meant to provide security cover to Prime Ministers, former Prime Ministers and their families. The force would now be tasked with protecting only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her security guards in 1984. After the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to provide security to former Prime Ministers and their families for 10 years.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, however, continued to get SPG cover from 2004 when he demitted office till his death in 2018.
During its full tenure that began in 1999, the Vajpayee government conducted a major review of the SPG’s operations in 2003. After the review, the SPG cover of former Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao, H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral and V.P. Singh was withdrawn.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)