No SPG Security for Gandhi Family: Amit Shah

Amit Shah. Photo: BJP (file photo)
Amit Shah. Photo: BJP (file photo)

The Parliament of India passed Tuesday (December 3) the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Replying to the debate on the Bill in the house, Union Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah, said that as per the intent of the original law, SPG focuses on Prime Minister’s (PM) security, as the PM is constitutionally the Head of the Government.

It looks after the Prime Minister’s personal security, health, communication, and secures the PMO and Prime Minister’s residence. It must not be made a status symbol and its mandate must not be diluted in deploying the specialized force for the security of a particular family.

Shah was referring to Gandhi family of the opposition party Congress which has demanded the restoration of SPG security for the Gandhi family and former PM of India Manmohan Singh.

While the government headed by PM Narendra Modi has replaced SPG with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for Gandhis, Congress has accused the Modi government of personal vendetta and endangering the life of senior Congress leaders.

The SPG – which is the premier security agency in India – was providing the security to the Gandhi family because two of their family members and former PMs – Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi – were assassinated. Now, nearly 3,000 personnel of SPG will provide security to PM Modi only.

Shah also stressed that the government is responsible for the security of 130 crore Indian citizens, which includes the said family. He added that there is a perception that the amendment in the SPG Act is being brought only for the purpose to remove the SPG security cover for the Gandhi family.

He said that the Gandhi family’s security level was not being removed but was changed from SPG to Z+ with ASL (Advance Security Liaison) and 24X7 Ambulance provision. This has been done on the basis of threat perception as per the original version of the law and the family’s security cover is at par with that of the Home Minister and Defence Minister.

Therefore, he said, there is no question of vendetta politics against one family and they have been assigned security personnel who have undergone SPG training at some point of time in their career.

Shah said that the person who would be at the greatest disadvantage because of the Amendment in the Act is the current Prime Minister, who would lose SPG cover when he demits office. He also remarked that the SPG security cover of several previous Prime Ministers had been removed in the past, but there were no protests previously.

Speaking on the reported security breach at Priyanka Gandhi’s residence, Shah said that the visiting persons were Congress party members and the security allowed them entry based on this specific information. Despite this, government has ordered high-level inquiry into this matter and suspended the concerned 3 security personnel.

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Rakesh Raman