Z-plus security cover for politicians and its criteria: All you need to know

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Lalu Prasad Yadav with the security cover. (PTI Photo)
In India, security is provided to high-risk individuals by the police and local government. Individuals under the security blanket include President, Vice-President, Prime-Minister, Supreme Court and High Court Judges, Governors of State, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers. Security being provided to these people is understood, but it is also seen that politicians who are not in power or who are facing legal charges also enjoy this state-sponsored security.

Types of Securities for Indian Politicians

Depending on the threat perception to the person concerned, the Home Ministry approves the security cover to the politicians and bureaucrats. The security is divided into following categories:

SPG category

• The Special Protection Group (SPG) is an armed force of the Union of India which provides proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and former Prime Minister of India and members of their immediate families (wife, husband, children and parents)".

• Strength of security detail under SPG is classified.

• Family members of a serving Prime Minister (PM) may decline security. Former PMs and their immediate family members may also, if they choose, decline SPG security.

Z+ category or Z plus security

• The Z+ Security is given by the National Security Guard commandos.

• They are armed with sophisticated MP5 guns and modern communication gadgets and each member of the team are adept in martial arts and unarmed combat skills.

• Z+ category has a security cover of 36 personnel.

• The NSG is used extensively to guard VIPs and VVIPs, especially those in the Z+ category.

• An individual is entitled to have round-the-clock personal security.

Z category

• This category has a security cover of 22 personnel.

• The 'Z' category entails security cover by the Delhi police or the ITBP or CRPF personnel and one escort car.

Y category

• This category has a security cover of 11 personnel including personal security officers (PSOs).

• It also has two PSOs.

X category

• The beneficiaries of ‘X' category cover get 2 personnel for their protection.

Who decides the cover?

• VVIP security is decided by a committee comprising Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials, home secretary and the home minister.

• Sometimes security cover is provided on recommendation of the state government.

Security for politicians - A very costly investment

• As per a report of eurasiareview in May 2013, the Centre alone provides security to over 380 VIPs with at least three policemen guarding each VIP.

• Over 35 VIPs receive ‘Z-plus' security and are protected by 35 to 80 cops.

• Around 50 VIPs are covered under ‘Z' category and are protected by at least 20 personnel each, at any point of time, besides guards posted at their homes.

• A lot of public money goes into protecting VIPs and when it comes to common man, the one who pays for the protection provided to these politicians, there is just one police person for every 176.

• Delhi government openly admitted in the Supreme Court that 8,049 police personnel were deployed to protect VIPs at Rs 341 crore a year in Delhi alone.

• According to reports, most of Rs 341 crore spent on Delhi's VIPs was spent on 376 individuals who had been given Z-plus or central security forces.

Security cover becoming a status symbol for politicians

• Security cover should be withdrawn once the threats cease to exist.

• Many instances in the past show that despite the Intelligence Bureau (IB) reassessment of the security cover and informing that the cover is no more needed, it is not removed.

• The politicians are reluctant to give up the same as this security cover becomes their status symbol.

• In some cases being placed in a category is viewed as a status symbol by politicians, and many use their clout to secure a Z+ security cover.

• This is criticized as a waste of taxpayer's money on less deserving candidates.

Who were killed despite having Z-plus security?

The following people who died despite a Z+ security cover:

• Rajbir Singh, a famous encounter specialist was killed in March 2008.

• Former Union minister Pramod Mahajan was shot dead.

• Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by a member of her own security detail in 1984.

• Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a blast in 1991.

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