Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s security cover was today downgraded to Z plus category. Till now the two-time head of state was protected by the elite Special Protection Group (SPG).
Security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing carry out periodic assessments of threat perceptions and make recommendations to the government on increasing or decreasing the security cover. About 450 people are currently in the central protectee list. Of the security categories, the SPG cover is most exhaustive followed by the Z plus category.
“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 ministry of home affairs spokesperson said in reply to a query.
The SPG – 3500 strong elite protection group comprising policemen – was formed after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. The security cover was extended to former prime ministers after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during his campaign trail.
The number of policemen deployed to protect a Z plus protectee depends on the threat perception. For instance, former Tamil Nadu chief minister of J Jayalalitha -who had multiple threats including from the Sri Lanka based Liberation of Tamil Tiger Eelam (LTTE) -was protected by 45 to 60 National Security Guard (NSG) commandos.
This is isn’t the first time that security cover of a former Prime Minister has been downgraded. Earlier, the protective cover of former prime minister of HD Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral was also downgraded.