Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s top Special Protection Group (SPG) security will be withdrawn. He will have Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) cover, the home ministry has decided after what it calls a routine assessment taking the inputs of all agencies.
Sources say Manmohan Singh’s security has been reassessed as part of an annual exercise to review the SPG cover that only a select few are entitled to. The elite force, which guards the country’s most protected politicians, will now be tasked with guarding only four people — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
“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. Dr. Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z+ security cover,” a home ministry official said.
Sources close to Manmohan Singh, who was prime minister for 10 years from 2004 to 2014, say he is “personally not concerned about his security” and will go by the government’s decision.
Similar security was also withdrawn from former prime ministers HD Deve Gowda and VP Singh two decades ago. Another former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was not seen in public in his last few years because of his illness, had SPG cover till he died in 2018.
The SPG has over 3,000 personnel. Based on threat perception, the special group covers Prime Ministers as well as former Prime Ministers and their families.
Manmohan Singh’s daughters had already given up SPG protection in 2014, when the Congress lost power to the BJP. So had former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster daughter.
The SPG was set up in 1985 specifically for the security of prime ministers after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her security guards a year before.
After the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to provide security to former PMs and their families for 10 years.
In 2003, the Vajpayee government amended the law again to bring down the automatic protection for 10 years to one year – or more depending on the level of threat as decided by the centre.