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Special Protection Group

The Special Protection Group, with about 3000 personnel, is used for the protection of VIP personnel such as the President and Prime Minister. They are trained like the US Secret Service. Recruits include police and NSG commandos. The Officer cadre is mainly IPS Officers from various state/central cadres.

The Special Protection Group provides proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and the members of his immediate family. Proximate security includes protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport, and includes the places of functions, engagements,residence or halt and shall comprise ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone around, and the rostrum and access control to the person or members of his immediate family.

The Special Protection Group, over a period of time, grew both in size as well as in specialisation. The SPG is divided broadly into the following four categories

  • OPERATIONS - This category looks after the actual protection duties. In the Operations Branch, there are components like Communications Wing, Technical Wing and Transport Wing.
  • TRAINING - This category deals with the training of personnel on a continuous basis; The SPG imparts training in physical efficiency, firing, anti-sabotage checks, communication and other operative aspects connected with close protection drills and having a bearing on VVIP security with a view to maintaining a high level of physical fitness and to fine-tune the operational skills of SPG officers. The Syllabi of the training program is constantly reviewed and updated to effectively thwart threats from newer areas and in keeping with existing threat perception.
  • INTELLIGENCE and TOURS - This category looks after the threat assessment, internal intelligence pertaining to personnel, verification of character and antecedents, tours and other allied jobs.
  • ADMINISTRATION - This category deals with personnel, procurement and other related matters.

Before 1981 the security of the Prime Minister at his residence and offices used to be looked after by Special Security District of Delhi Police under the charge of DCP. In October 1981 a Special Task Force was raised by I.B. to provide ring-round and escort to the Prime Minister during his movements both in Delhi and outside. Then after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October, 1984, a review was undertaken by a Committee of Secretaries and it was decided to entrust security of the Prime Minister to a Special Group under unitary and direct control of designated officer and S.T.F. to provide immediate security cover both in Delhi and outside. These decisions were taken as short term measures. Then subsequently in February 18, 1985, MHA set up Birbal Nath committee to go into the issue in its entirety and submit its recommendation. In March, 1985, the Birbal Nath Committee submitted its recommendations of raising a Special Protection Unit.

On March 30, 1985, ( vide Government of India, Cabinet Secretariat Order No. A-11013/16/85 DO- I)(Annexure S- 3) President of India created 819 posts for the unit under Cabinet Secretariat. The SPU was then rechristened Special Protection Group, and the post of IGP was redesignated as Director. The SPG came into being on 8th April, 1985 when Dr.S.Subramaniam, then Joint Director (VIP Security) in the IB assumed Office.Creation of SPG required an elaborate exercise in order to clearly deleniate responsibility of various agencies concerned with the security of the Prime Minister. The provisions contained in the 'Blue Book' - which lays down security guidelines for the protection of the Prime Minister - had to be harmoniously blended with this new concept of proximate security. Intelligence Bureau and the State/UT Police concerned were responsible for coordination, collection and dissemination of intelligence affecting VIP security. State/UT Police concerned and the SPG were responsible for providing physical security arrangements for the Prime Minister; the Intelligence Bureau was to provide the required intelligence inputs to these operational agencies.

The Special Protection Group functioned as a security group purely on the strength of an Executive Order for three years without a legislation, from April 1985 through 02 June 1988. The Special Protection Group was constituted and trained specially to provide protection to Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, in view of very high threat to him from several sources. But the organisation created for the proximate security of Shri Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister did not contemplate provision of protection to him when he ceased to be the Prime Minister, and faced magnified threats.

After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG Act was amended in 1991 to provide security to former Prime Ministers and their immediate families for a period of five years from the date on which the former Prime Minister ceased to hold office. The SPG cover for Sonia Gandhi and her children lapsed in December 1994, and was been extended for 10 years from the date Rajiv Gandhi demitted office as PM.

An increase of about 40 per cent was made in the 1997-98 Union Budget in the allocation for the Special Protection Group. The allocation for the SPG was Rs. 46 crores in the last Budget which increased to Rs. 54.39 crores in the 1996-97 revised estimate. The Union Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram, allocated Rs. 75.59 crores for 1997-98, reflecting pressure on the SPG and expansion of the security cover provided by SPG.




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