Rahul avoided spl security 1,892 times in 5 yrs: Report

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi (PTI Photo)

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi refused to travel in a bullet-resistant (BR) vehicle in Delhi on 1,892 occasions from 2015 till May 2019, according to an Indian Express report.

Rahul Gandhi's security protocol devised by the Special Protection Group (SPG), has been identified with “gaps that raise concern,”  the government officials have told The Indian Express.

Looking back at his trips between 2015 to June 2019, he has not taken a BR vehicle 247 times and on 18 occasions, outside Delhi and across the country respectively, the report said.

Further, government sources told The Indian Express that Gandhi was reluctant to utilise the SPG cover during almost 91% of his international travels. Out of his 156 of 143 abroad trips, sources said, he did not take the SPG with him.

There were no rules under the SPG Act specifically mandating a protectee to take SPG cover abroad, a few government officials told. Some officials re-flagged this as a  “non-observance of protocol".

“Under the Act, the protectee is supposed to be protected all the time. It is silent on where. So it is to be assumed that it applies to foreign visits as well,” an official to the daily.

Officials said that it was embarrassing to walk into an educational institution with a large security detail.

They said that many countries do not allow for weapons to be carried, but they do respect the privacy of the protectee in certain situations abroad. In all such situations, drills for security without weapons are made as well.

Gandhi, while travelling in Banaskantha in Gujarat in August 2017, an incident of stone-pelting injured an SPG PSO since the car was not non-bulletproof.

Congress raised the issue in Parliament and later also Home Minister Rajnath Singh had  Lok Sabha 100 occasions out of his 121 visits between April 2015 and June 2017, that Gandhi did not avail of SPG BR vehicles.

The SPG, a force with 3,000 active personnel at present, was formed in April 1985, ensuing Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination by her bodyguards in October 1984.

The force currently protects four people - PM Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi.

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