X, Y, Z, Z+ and SPG: The whys and hows of security categories in India
New Delhi, Sep 22: The Centre has recently upgraded BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa's 'Z' category Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) security from three states to across India.
This is the second time when Union Home has upgraded Sirsa's security within two years.
Earlier in 2021, the Ministry had upgraded the security cover of Sirsa from the 'Y' category security to the 'Z' category days after he joined BJP after leaving Shiromani Akali Dal. Then, Sirsa was provided a 'Z' category security cover in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab states.
From time to time, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and local governments take the decision on providing security based on inputs of threat perception to the individual. However, the security cover has often been a matter of debate. The upgrading and downgrading have led to political slugfest between the ruling and opposition parties.
Notably, Centre's decision to withdraw the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka in 2019 resulted in war-of-words between the BJP and the Congress.
Who gets security cover?
The security in India is given to VVIPs and high-risk individuals that include politicians, sportsmen, religious leaders, artists as well as businessmen.
Decision on the type of security to the VVIPs to be given is taken by a committee consisting of Intelligence Bureau officials, home secretary, director General in the state and they send the details to the Union Home Ministry for formal approval.
Types of Security Cover
In India, the Special Protection Group (SPG) is the highest-level category of security cover and it is given to the Prime Minister and his immediate family.
Currently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being protected by the elite SPG commandos. SPG protectees, under the rules, are provided with guards, hi-tech vehicles, jammers and an ambulance in their carcade.
The SPG protects the Prime Minister at all times both in India and abroad.
The SPG Act, enacted by Parliament in 1988, was initially supposed to provide security to only the prime minister and former prime ministers of the country.
The Act was amended after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to include the immediate family members of former prime ministers, paving the way for Sonia Gandhi as well her children to get SPG security
The need for a separate force for guarding the prime minister of the country was felt after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards on October 31, 1984.
However, the government withdrew the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, and were given Z-plus security by the CRPF in 2019.
After SPG, this is the highest security given for an individual in the country and it usually comprises 55 personnel including 10+ NSG commandos. A bullet proof vehicle is part of the security along with a pilot vehicle.
Gandhis, Amit Shah, UP CM Yogi Adityanath and Reliance industries chairman Mukesh Ambani are some of the prominent public figures who are accorded Z+ security.
Interestingly, the government's decision to give the Z+ safety cover to Ambani had raised eyebrows. Also, there was a PIL filed in the Supreme Court seeking withdrawal of the said security to the India's leading businessman.
However, the apex court dismissed the plea. In case of Ambani, he is bearing the expenses of the security cover.
22 personnel including four to six NSG commandos and police personnel provide security to an individual in the Z Category.
Industrialist Gautam Adani and yoga guru Baba Ramdev are some of the well-known public personalities who are given the Z Category security.
Y and Y+ Categories
Under Y and Y+ Categories, protectees have 11-12 personnel, including 1 or 2 Commandos and police personnel, guarding them 24/7. In the recent times, actress Kangana Ranaut and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri were given y-category cover. In the recent history, the Karnataka HC judges, who delivered judgement on Hijab row, were given this cover.
It is a basic level protection that involves the deployment of two armed personnel but the protectees does not get commandos. Generally, it is given to the lawyers who fight high-profile cases.
Cost of the Security
While the government refuses to give details of expenditure on the SPG citing security reasons, there is a report which claim that it will cost Rs 1.62 crore a day. As per the finance ministry statement, the SPG has been allocated Rs 385.95 crore, this year.
As far the cost of the Z category security is concerned, it will cost around Rs 15-20 lakh per month.
According to a report in the Hindu, in response to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2021 by Jammu resident Rohit Choudhary, the MHA said, "It is stated that with regard to expenditure on providing security to any individual (including Ms. Kangana Ranaut) is not compiled by us."
"Secondly, it is difficult to determine it precisely as it includes salary and allowances to security personnel, communication, transport vehicles etc. which are accounted for under respective budget heads of different security agencies, under different heads. Moreover, State governments also incur expenditure on security as primarily the State governments are responsible for providing security to individuals on tour in their State/UT (area of jurisdiction). These accounts are neither complied nor available centrally. Hence, it is difficult to ascertain the expenditure on security."
The government provides the aforementioned security on the basis of threat assessment by Central Security Agency and is subject to periodic review. Based on such review, the security cover is continued, withdrawn or modified.