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SPECIAL PROTECTION GROUP

he Special Protection Group, with about 3000 personnel, is used for the protection of VVIPs such as the Prime Minister. Recruits include the Police and the NSG Commandos and they are trained like the US Secret Service. The Officer cadre is mainly IPS Officers from various state/central cadres. The Special Protection Group provides proximate security to VVIPs and the members of their immediate family. Proximate security includes protection provided from close quarters, journey on foot, road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or any other means of transport, and includes places of functions, engagements, residence, etc. They comprise ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone, and the rostrum & access control to the person or members of his immediate family. The Special Protection Group, over a period of time, grew both in size as well as in specialisation.

The SPG is divided broadly into the following four categories:

  • Operations : Looks after the actual protection duties. In the Operations Branch, there are components like the Communications Wing, Technical Wing and Transport Wing.
  • Training : Deals with the training of personnel on a continuous basis. The SPG imparts training in physical efficiency, firing, anti-sabotage checks, communication and other operative aspects connected with close protection drills and having a bearing on VVIP security with a view to maintaining a high level of physical fitness and to fine-tune the operational skills of SPG Officers. The training program is constantly reviewed and updated to effectively thwart threats from newer areas and in keeping with existing threat perception.
  • Intelligence & Tours : Looks after the threat assessment, internal intelligence pertaining to personnel, verification of character and antecedents, tours and other allied jobs.
  • Administration : Deals with personnel, procurement and other related matters.

Before 1981 the security of the Prime Minister at his/her residence and offices used to be looked after by Special Security District of Delhi Police under the charge of DCP. In October 1981 a Special Task Force (STF) was raised by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to provide ring-round and escort to the Prime Minister during his movements both in New Delhi and outside. After the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984, a review was undertaken by a Committee of Secretaries and it was decided to entrust security of the Prime Minister to a Special Group under unitary and direct control of a designated Officer and the STF to provide immediate security cover both in New Delhi and outside. These decisions were taken as short term measures. Then on 18 February 1985, the MHA set up the Birbal Nath Committee to go into the issue in its entirety and submit its recommendation. In March 1985, the Birbal Nath Committee submitted its recommendations of raising a Special Protection Unit (SPU). On 30 March 1985, the President of India created 819 posts for the unit under the Cabinet Secretariat. The SPU was then re-christened, Special Protection Group, and the post of IGP was re-designated as Director.

The SPG came into being on 8 April 1985 when Dr. S. Subramaniam, then Joint Director (VIP Security) in the IB assumed office. Creation of the SPG required an elaborate exercise in order to clearly delineate responsibility of various agencies concerned with the security of the Prime Minister. The provisions contained in the Blue Book, which lays down security guidelines for the protection of the Prime Minister, had to be harmoniously blended with this new concept of proximate security. IB and the State/UT Police concerned were responsible for coordination, collection and dissemination of intelligence affecting VIP security. State/UT Police and the SPG were responsible for providing physical security arrangements for the Prime Minister, while the IB was to provide the required intelligence inputs to these operational agencies. The SPG functioned as a security group purely on the strength of an Executive Order for three years without a legislation, from April 1985 through June 1988.

The SPG was constituted and trained specially to provide protection to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in view of the threats to him from several sources. But, the organisation created for the proximate security of Prime Minister Gandhi, did not contemplate provision of protection to him when he ceased to be Prime Minister, and faced magnified threats. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991, the SPG Act was amended in 1991 to provide security to former Prime Ministers and their immediate families for a period of 5 years from the date on which the former Prime Minister ceased to hold office. The SPG cover for Sonia Gandhi & her children lapsed in December 1994, and has been extended for 10 years from the date Rajiv Gandhi was demitted from office as Prime Minister. An increase of about 40% was made in the 1997-98 Union Budget in the allocation for the SPG. The then-incumbent Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, allocated Rs. 75.59 crores for 1997-98, reflecting pressure on the SPG and expansion of the security cover provided by SPG.

 

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