New Delhi : It was a painful moment for the Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel to bid goodbye to the man whom they have been shielding all these 14 years.

The bodyguards of Vajpayee on Friday stood in queue, away from cameras and crowd, and took turns to silently offer their homage to the departed leader. This was the last time they were seeing him.

The loss of the great man, whom they shadowed all along, suddenly dawned on them. With Vajpayee’s demise, these men would now be positioned to protect some other VIP. But for them, the memories of Vajpayee would be hard to erase. The man who was the centre of their attention all these years and for whom they would have sacrificed their own life, is gone.

“It is very shocking for us. We have been deployed here for many years for his security. He was a tall leader. We will miss him,” said an SPG officer.  Shying away from media, he along with his colleagues took turns to quietly offer floral tributes to Vajpayee before getting back to duty. They escorted him one last time to Smriti Sthal, where Vajpayee’s last rites took place.

The SPG team of 20 people in each shift of eight hours (total 60) used to guard Vajpayee at his 6A Krishna Menon Marg Road residence. From manning the main gate to escorting dignitaries, taking care of security and movement, maintaining diary entry – these men shadowed Vajpayee 24×7. They even stood guard when he slept and were around him when he was awake.

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