New Delhi, May 9: An elite unit of the CRPF will take over the security of Parliament, now protected by the central force and other agencies under Delhi police’s command.
The Parliament Duty Group (PDG), which will comprise 1,540 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), is likely to take charge in the last week of July. The Union home ministry cleared the proposal on April 24.
Members of the PDG will be trained in combating nuclear and bio-chemical attacks, rescue operations and behavioural management, home ministry officials said.
“The selection process has already begun and it will be finalised in a few weeks. The main charter for the PDG would include providing armed protection to Parliament House. This would be the only force vested with the responsibility,” said a home ministry official.
A unit like the PDG had been under consideration for some time, and members of the joint parliamentary committee on Parliament security had recommended such a specialised unit. The House panel was formed immediately after the terrorist attack of December 2001.
“During our earlier meetings, some members had suggested the idea of a special CRPF force to provide protection to Parliament House. It is good that the home ministry has approved it,” Karia Munda, Lok Sabha deputy Speaker and chairman of the House panel told The Telegraph.
At present, the Parliament House complex is shielded by four layers of security, each under teams from Delhi police, CRPF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and personnel of Parliament Security Service. The last was formed in the aftermath of the December 2001 attack and its 200-odd personnel will be part of the PDG.
“The PDG personnel will be armed with hi-tech arms, which will include Glock pistols (sophisticated automatic pistols), MP5 assault rifles and Insas telescopic sniper rifles and special equipment, including hand-held thermal imagers,” said a senior CRPF officer.
Some of these weapons are already in use but the range of armoury for the planned group will include more sophisticated versions of the arms.
The home ministry sent a letter on April 24 to CRPF director-general K. Vijay Kumar on the PDG and stressed the importance of training the 1,500-odd personnel.
“A pre-induction special training course of two months would be given to the PDG personnel with emphasis on endurance, physical training, unarmed combat, weapon handling, firing including sniper training, nuclear bio-chemical attack, rescue and relief, fire-fighting, behavioural management and familiarisation with contingency drills of the Parliament complex,” the letter said.
The home ministry has asked the CRPF to ensure that the personnel recruited for the PDG are young and meet robust physical standards. The constables should be below 30, and head constables, sub-inspectors and inspectors below 45 years of age, the ministry said.
“The PDG will co-ordinate with the existing security units that guard the periphery and approach routes to Parliament House,” the ministry official added.
The Parliament complex has a perimeter security system that sends updates every 1.2 seconds. Intruders coming into contact with the fence suffer a painful jolt and the alarm system gets activated. The fence is divided into 30 zones, each monitored by a separate team.
On December 13, 2001, five suspected Lashkar terrorists entered the complex and opened fire. Seven jawans went down fighting the militants, all of whom were shot dead. The seven personnel included five of Delhi police, a woman constable of the CRPF and a security guard.