Not even ministers and officers will be allowed to come too close to the prime minister unless cleared by his special security.
New Delhi: No one, not even ministers, will be allowed to come too close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi unless cleared by the Special Protection Group (SPG), the Union Home Ministry said today in its new security guidelines to states.
There has been an “all-time high” threat to the prime minister and he is the “most valuable target” in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, officials privy to the issue said.
No one, not even ministers and officers, should be allowed to come too close to the prime minister unless cleared by his special security, the Home Ministry communication said, citing an “unknown threat” to Modi.
The SPG is believed to have advised Modi, the main campaigner for the ruling BJP, to cut down on road shows, which invite a bigger threat, in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and instead address public rallies, which are easier to manage, an official said.
The close protection team (CPT) of the prime minister’s security has been briefed about the new set of rules and the threat assessment and instructed to frisk even a minister or an officer, if necessary.
The prime minister’s security apparatus was reviewed threadbare recently after the Pune Police told a court on June 7 that they had seized a “letter” from the Delhi residence of one of the five people arrested for having alleged “links” with the banned CPI (Maoist), another official said.
The purported letter allegedly mentioned a plan to “assassinate” Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”, the police had told the court.
Also, during Modi’s recent visit to West Bengal, a man was able to break through six layers of security to touch his feet, sending the security agencies into a tizzy.
Following these developments, Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain to review the prime minister’s security.
In that meeting, the home minister had directed that all necessary measures be taken in consultation with other agencies to suitably strengthen security arrangements for the prime minister.
Maoist-hit states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal were termed sensitive by the Home Ministry and the police chiefs of these states were told to be extra careful when the prime minister visits their states, the official said.
Security agencies are believed to be specially monitoring the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI), an outfit that the government believes is a front for radical groups. —PTI
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.