New Delhi: The Narendra Modi-led government on Monday withdrew the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s top Special Protection Group (SPG) security. He will have the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) cover, the home ministry has decided.
“The current security cover review is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception that is purely based on a professional assessment by security agencies. Dr Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z+ security cover,” said MHA.
According to sources, Manmohan Singh’s security has been reassessed as part of an annual exercise to review SPG cover, which is given to the country’s most protected politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.
Manmohan Singh’s daughters had already relinquished their SPG cover in 2014, similarly, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster daughter had done.
According to procedures laid down by the SPG Act, 1988, Singh was entitled to SPG cover for one year after he demitted office in 2014. His SPG security cover was renewed annually after a review of the threats faced by him and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi. Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988, dedicating the group to protecting the prime minister.
At the time, the Act did not include former prime ministers. When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to offer SPG protection to all former prime ministers and their families for at least 10 years.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government conducted a review of the SPG’s functioning and decided to withdraw the SPG protection given to former prime ministers P V Narasimha Rao, H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral.
In 2003, the Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to “a period of one year from the date on which the former prime minister ceased to hold office” and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the general government.