Govt withdraws former PM Manmohan Singh's SPG cover

Govt withdraws former PM Manmohan Singh's SPG cover

The Government has withdrawn the Special Protection Guard (SPG) cover for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and downgraded the security cover to Z+ after a "review" of threat perception.

With this, only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will only have SPG protection.

"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. Sources said the CRPF will soon take over Singh's security.

The downgrading of the security cover for Singh, who demitted office in May 2014, was done after a review. The SPG cover is reviewed annually for a protectee, who demits the office of Prime Minister.

The SPG cover for former Prime Ministers late VP Singh and H D Deve Gowda were also withdrawn after they demitted office. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had SPG cover till he died in August 2018.

The SPG, which was established after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, has over 3,000 personnel to provide security for Prime Minister and former prime ministers and their immediate family.

The protection by the elite force to former prime ministers and their family are reviewed annually after completion of first year out of office. Singh's daughters had given up SPG protection in 2014.

The Gandhi family continues to be secured by the SPG due to threat perception. As per the initial law, the SPG cover for a prime minister is withdrawn immediately after he demits office.

However, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG Act was amended to include former Prime Ministers and their family for ten years after demitting office.

Later in 2003, it was once again amended that any former Prime Minister or to the members of his immediate family would get SPG cover for a period of one year from the date on which the former Prime Minister ceased to hold office. Beyond one year, it said, the SPG cover will be extended based on the level of threat as decided by the central government.

While deciding the level of threat, the amendment said, the Centre should take into account factors like whether the threat emanates from any militant or terrorist organisation or any other source and that the threat is of a"grave and continuing" nature.