The government has withdrawn former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Special Protection Group security cover, NDTV reported on Monday. He will now get protection from the Central Reserve Police Force.
“The current security cover review is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception that is purely based on professional assessment by security agencies,” ANI quoted an unidentified Ministry of Home Affairs official as saying. “Dr Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z-plus security cover.”
The Special Protection Group, which has more than 3,000 personnel, protects prime ministers, former prime ministers and their families. Previous governments had withdrawn the Special Protection Group security covers granted to former prime ministers HD Deve Gowda and Vishwanath Pratap Singh. However, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cover was kept intact till his death in 2018.
Only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi now have Special Protection Group cover, The Hindu reported.
An official privy to the development said Singh’s protection was extended for a year after he demitted office in 2014, and was then renewed annually based on threat perception to him and his wife Gursharan Kaur. Singh’s two daughters voluntarily gave up their cover in 2014.
However, on May 25, the government decided against renewing the former prime minister’s Special Protection Group cover. After a three-month review process, the decision was taken this month and communicated to Singh by a senior intelligence officer. However, no written order has been drafted yet, and the 200-strong force at the former prime minister’s home in Delhi remains in place. Singh refused to comment to The Hindu on the government’s decision.
The Special Protection Group was set up in 1985 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the year before. In 1991, after the assassination of Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG Act was amended to allow the force to protect former prime ministers for 10 years.
In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government amended the law again to reduce the period of protection to just one year, depending on the level of threat perception.