SECURITY OF THE PRIME MINISTER: FROM SPG TO THE BLUEBOOK

January 31, 2022

INTRODUCTION:

In a major security lapse, PM Narendra Modi’s convoy was stranded on a flyover due to blockage by the farm laws protests in Ferozepur on Wednesday after which he returned from poll-bound without attending any event, including a rally. Now, why did this security breach happen in the first place? Was it the fault of the ministry of home affairs or was it a genuine mistake? We will be discussing the security and protection protocols of the Prime Minister and how these protocols are made, and the most important detail i.e., who makes these security protection protocols, is discussed below.

WHAT IS THE SPG?

The Special Protection Group is an elite force that forms to ensure protection for India’ sitting Prime minister and his or her family members. The group had established following the Special Group Act 1988. Currently, only the PM is protected by the SPG. The group consists of 3000 guards and each one of them has gone through extensive training for such a purpose. The SPG can be considered as one of the best elite forces in India as the efficiency shown by them in physical combat and accuracy with firearms is only the tip of the entire iceberg. The SPG is headed by a director with a few deputies, assistant and joint assistant directors to aid him. The SPG consists of 4 departments such as:

  1. The operational wing which handles acting on the protection duties. 
  2. Next is training which includes keeping the guards in proper physical condition to ensure efficient protection. 
  3. The intelligence department ensures an important database including assessing threats in a particular location which the PM may visit. 
  4. The last is Administration, which includes HR and other matters involved for the smooth functioning of the organisation’s. 

Their dress code is a factor to take note of as it is not the typical commandos or army like uniforms. The guards wear formal suits which are black and are also provided with earpieces to receive important information from command control. Designed completely to provide them with a professional look like the guards protecting diplomats in other countries including the UK and the US. 

Still, the SPG also carries out other crucial operations which include them equipping state of the art rifles and bulletproof vests with extra body padding in times when there is an abnormal level of threat in a particular location. 

HISTORY OF THE SPG:

The PM had been protected by the Intelligence bureau via a particular task force established by them to serve such a purpose. But, after the horrifying assassination of PM Indira Gandhi, the Special Task Force had been provided with the power to establish a particular unit to ensure protection. In 1985, the MHA had introduced the Birbal Nath Committee to analyse the situation on the security of the PM. The committee voted in favour exclusive unit established for the protection of the PM. 

Following such recommendations, the president of India introduced the Special Protection Unit. The said unit had later been established as the SGP. The SGP had no statute that governed them till 1988. The assassination of PM Rajiv Gandhi had caused the government had passed an amendment to the SGP Act to ensure codification of the provisions brought in by the order passed. The provisions ensured the protection of the PM and his or her close family members. Yet, fast forward to 2019, the government had passed an amendment to the SGP Act which if only the PM and close family members residing with him in the government house will be protected by the SGP. The amendment also reduced former PMs extension need to 5 years post leaving office which caused protests from INC for the protection of the Gandhi family. The government later provided them with Z+ security and the SGP reserved for the sitting PM.

WHAT IS A BLUEBOOK?

As mentioned above the elite force that protects the prime minister is called the SPG, the question that arises is how the SPG lays down its rules for protecting the prime minister? 

The manual that the SPG follows is called the ‘bluebook’. The bluebook is a manual that was published by the MHA. The Bluebook is used by the SPG to lay down the security protocols to protect the Prime Minister whenever he or she visits a state. The Prime Minister’s security on states visits is governed by the SPG’s Bluebook, which lays out the standards for his safety. The state’s top leadership, including the Chief Minister, Home Minister, and the police chief are briefed on the security detail of the PM. 

As per the Bluebook, the SPG must convene an Advance Security Liaison three days before any visit by the Prime Minister with everyone responsible for protecting the event, including intelligence Bureau personnel in the concerned state, state police officers, and the applicable district magistrate. 

Everything including the tiniest intricacies are laid out at this meeting. The group analyses the PM’s travel arrangements, which includes how he will be escorted, and decisions are made based on central and local intelligence inputs. For any emergency event, agencies at all levels prepare contingency plans. 

ALL ABOUT THE RECENT “SECURITY BREACH” IN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI’S SECURITY IN THE STATE OF PUNJAB:

On Wednesday, January 5, 2022, Prime Minister Modi’s rally was cancelled in Ferozepur, Punjab. This happened because there was a major ‘security lapse’ as stated by the ministry of home affairs. The convoy of the PM was stuck for 20 minutes on the flyover between Bhatinda and the guarded border of Hussainiwala. The vehicle was stuck at a place where it could have been targeted by a trained sniper or attacked by a drone or some other similar category weapon. Because of the weather conditions, it was advised that the prime minister should travel by road. It was also said that the protestors were unaware of the prime minister’s travel. 

The authorities also blamed Punjab Police said that the route was not protected and no serious attempts were made to remove the protestor blocking the road. Ineffective communication, misconception and error of judgements are all plausible scenarios. 

The above-mentioned situation must also result in a more efficient protocol for the Prime Minister’s security and if needed, a restructuring of the SPG. 

CONCLUSION:

As seen throughout the article, there is a procedure followed and has been an efficient factor in the security of the PM. But, following the current security breach, is there a need to improve the current procedure followed or is upgrading the technology or shifting more resources to the SPG needed? As technology grows, the level of the threat increases too. As per the rise, the SPG must foresee the current change and ensure their standards are above. Such errors as seen in the current issue can’t be considered as a mere issue and the SPG must build upon their current system to ensure the safety of the PM.

Comments

Archana Chopra

Very useful information 👌👌👏👏

Anjali

Well articulated 👍

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