New Delhi, Aug. 3: The Centre is considering transferring the security of most VIPs to the Central Industrial Security Force, apparently because its personnel are “friendlier” than their peers in other security agencies.
The buzz comes at a time the Union home ministry is also mulling whether to prune the current list of VIPs accorded security, which was prepared by the UPA government, ministry sources said.
A CISF officer said the home ministry had “a few months ago” indicated to the paramilitary force that it might have to “extend our security cover to more VIPs”.
“The ministry said several VIPs had expressed a preference for our personnel citing their polite and friendly behaviour,” he said.
The CISF trains its personnel specially to deal with common people and dignitaries.
Senior CISF officers said the force, already short of manpower, had requested the home ministry to double the strength of its Special Security Group, responsible for VIP cover.
“We have requested the home ministry to provide us more manpower to cater to VIP security. The ministry has been very forthcoming on the issue, and we’ll soon get the green light,” CISF director-general Arvind Ranjan told The Telegraph.
Apart from protecting airports, Metro stations, public sector units and other vital installations, the CISF now provides cover to 44 dignitaries.
The National Security Guard, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Central Reserve Police Force protect another 225-odd dignitaries — a chunk of whom may now be placed in CISF hands.
Those on this list of 270-odd, selected on the basis of the home ministry’s assessment of threat perception, include Union ministers, Supreme Court and high court judges, chief ministers, bureaucrats and some other VIPs.
Apart from this, the Special Protection Group covers the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their families, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her family. The President has his own guards.
Ministry sources said the government was considering a recommendation made in 2002 by a group of ministers (GoM) that reviewed national security issues following the Kargil war.
The GoM suggested that VIP security should ideally be handled solely by the CISF because its personnel are professionally trained in the task. It said the other agencies (apart from the SPG) should be set free to focus on their prime jobs, such as guarding the borders, fighting terrorists and Maoists, and tackling street violence.
It said that in particular, it wanted to relieve the elite National Security Guard commandos from their duty of guarding VIPs (they now protect 17).
A home ministry official said the Centre spent “around Rs 341 crore a year” on VIP security.
In descending order of threat perception, the four categories of VIP security are Z-plus (36 guards), Z (22 guards), Y (11 guards) and X (2 guards).
Last month, the government accorded Z-plus security to Narendra Modi confidant and BJP general secretary (now president) Amit Shah.
Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju recently told the Lok Sabha: “The central government provides security cover on the basis of assessment of threat to some individuals. The security provided is subject to periodic review based on which security is continued/withdrawn/downgraded/upgraded.”