SPG vs Z+ security: What's the difference?

SPG vs Z+ security: What's the difference?

In 2017, new security guidelines to states in the wake of an "all-time high" threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Home Ministry has said that not even ministers and officers will be allowed to come too close to the prime minister unless cleared by the Special Protection Group (SPG). (PTI Photo)

The Central Government stripped the Special Protection Guard (SPG) security from the Congress's first family on Friday, according to official sources.

As of Nov. 8, the Gandhi family members - Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vandra - will receive Z+ level protection from the agencies.

This means that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the only person with SPG-level security.

But wait, what's the difference between SPG and Z+ protection? Let's take a look:

Security levels in India

The Indian security system provides protection to VIPs and VVIPs based on information provided by the Intelligence Bureau. Police and local governments provide security as specified under various levels, according to information received.

The personalities are entitled to the security either due to an administrative position or through filing an application regarding threats at the police station that's closest to their residence.

Once the threat is confirmed, the category of security is decided by the Home Secretary, Director General and the Chief Secretary in the state. The details are sent to the Union Home Ministry for formal approval.


SPG: A classified security detail, given exclusively to the Prime Minister.

Z+: 55 personnel 

Z: 22 personnel 

Y: 11 personnel 

X: 2 personnel 

What is the SPG?

The SPG is one of the many agencies - such as the NSG (National Security Guard), the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) and the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) - that safeguard important people with promininent positions.

The SPG, a force of 3,000 active personnel at present, was formed in April 1985, after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards in October 1984.

After being reviewed by a committee of secretaries, the SPG came into force as a single unit controlled by a designated official to provide security to the PM both in New Delhi and outside.

The security detail can be taken on or declined by the people concerned.

READ: Govt withdraws SPG security to Rahul, Sonia Gandhi

What is Z+ security?

The second highest level of security provided in India, with 55 personnel that includes 10 NSG Commandos and police.

They are highly trained and proficient in martial arts. They are equipped with sophisticated MP5 guns and modern communication gadgets.

The NSG or CISF personnel are deployed in full force within the state, whereas when they travel outside, only a few commandos travel with the person being secured. The destination state then takes over responsibility for the security detail.

READ: Rahul Gandhi avoided special security 1,892 times in 5 years

PM Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and a few others are provided Z+ security. This list now includes the Gandhi family.

The SPG cover was also withdrawn from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Aug. 26. His security cover was downgraded to Z+ after a "review" of the threat perception.