The government has withdrawn the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, and they will now be given Z-plus security by the CRPF, officials said on Friday.
The decision to withdraw the SPG cover given to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by LTTE terrorists on June 21, 1991, was taken after a detailed security assessment, a senior official said.
A govt source said that Sonia Gandhi didn’t use the SPG bullet-resistant vehicle on 50 occasions, while travelling in Delhi between 2015-19. Rahul Gandhi also travelled in a non-bullet resistant vehicle on 1892 occasions since 2015. Since 1991, he also didn’t take the SPG along on 143 visits.
A Govt source added: “Sonia Gandhi did not use SPG bullet-resistant vehicle on 50 occasions while travelling in Delhi between 2015-19. On 49 such occasions, Rahul Gandhi drove her non-bullet resistant vehicle She did not take SPG along on 24 foreign visits. Priyanka Gandhi did not use SPG bullet-resistant vehicles for her travel on 339 occasions. She took SPG cover only on 21 out of her 99 foreign visits. She also levelled allegations against SPG officers that they were collecting her personal info and sharing it.”
The Gandhis will be without SPG protection after 28 years. They were included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now be the only person being protected by the elite SPG commandos.
The Gandhi family will be covered by CRPF personnel. Under the Z-plus security, they will have commandos from the paramilitary force in close proximity besides guards at their homes and where ever they travel in the country, the official said.
SPG protectees, under the rules, are provided with guards, hi-tech vehicles, jammers and an ambulance in their carcade.
In August this year, the government withdrew the SPG cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
The SPG Act, enacted by Parliament in 1988, was initially supposed to provide security to only the prime minister and former prime ministers of the country.
The Act was amended after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to include the immediate family members of former prime ministers, paving the way for Sonia Gandhi as well her children to get SPG security.
The need for a separate force for guarding the prime minister of the country was felt after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards on October 31, 1984.