With increased threats, Narendra Modi gets near-PM security

9:46 AM, Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
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gujarth-CheifSwati Bhan : Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has always been high on the terrorists’ target list. But last month’s multiple blasts in Patna only added to the threat perception and with it the politics over his security. The BJP has demanded a a drastic increase in security with an added SPG  cover, the Union home ministry while ruling out the SPG cover has maintained that it has provided enough cover to the chief minister, who is also BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Modi has already been given the Z plus security cover post 2002 Godhra riots.Threat perceptions were looming large since then as there were regular intelligence inputs which suggested that certain extremists group including the Indian Mujahideen wanted to target him. Also, what pushed up the need for more security was the Akshardham terror attack.

Ever since the 2002 riots, questions about his security and the increased threat perceptions, were being raised. Prior to 2002, previous Gujarat chief ministers were provided security cover which included a pilot jeep, vehicle of local police apart from ambulance and fire brigade.  Other cabinet ministers are entitled to an SRP commando. Security experts who have worked with the CM’s security wing, say that earlier there was no separate department for CM’s security, “but the dynamics of threat changed post Gujarat riots and the LeT terrorist attack on the Akshardham temple at Gandhinagar.”

 The temple attack which killed 29 people, again raised questions about his security as the CM’s official residence is just a stone’s throw away. Prior to this incident, Modi was more relaxed, mingling with the crowds wherever he went, and would also sleep on the terrace of his bungalow.  But post the attack and with frequent Intelligent inputs of terror threats, a new security plan was drawn up, where round-the clock NSG cover was given to him, besides posting CISF jawans both at his residence and office. The walls of the CM bungalow were raised, flood lights installed and security watch towers too were installed with security men keeping vigil round the clock. So while Modi continues to rule the state and aspires to take the reigns of the country now, his security has become a major headache for the forces.

“We have formed a team of three senior IPS officers who went round the round the country and studied the security system for other CMs before adopting the best practices,” said one of the officers who is part of the CM security. He pointed out that the committee had concluded that the security of the CM of Tamil Nadu was the best and fool proof and suggested that the security ring of the Gujarat CM should be implemented on the same lines. Now that Modi is officially the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and touring various parts of the country, the National Security Guard (NSG) is preparing to give him more security . Modi’s security was last strengthened after he was made the BJP’s election campaign panel chief, the official pointed out.

As per details (the numbers are not exact due to security reasons) the number of personnel guarding him from close quarters jumped from 18 to 36. The rest of security comes from Gujarat police. Currently, 108 NSG personnel, 120 NSG commandoes and 20-25 from CM’s security apparatus provide the shield.

When Modi addresses public rallies, only the CM’s security will be on the dais, with the NSG throwing a security ring around the venue. There have been violations of his security manual several times in the last few months and the worst such lapse was in Patna. With this incident the BJP had upped the ante and demanded an SPG cover for Modi on the lines of the prime minister. Though the Union home ministry has refused to upgrade Modi’s security to the PM’s level, the kind of security Modi now gets surpasses LK Advani, Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Raman Singh and Akhilesh Yadav.

So now with the home ministry’s approval the number of personnel in Modi’s inner security cordon has been doubled and the Gujarat police is responsible for the outer ring. The move meant a total of 108 NSG personnel, including those who sanitise the vehicles used by Modi to travel outside Gujarat. The home ministry has also decided to provide the Advance Security Liaison (ASL) facility to the Gujarat chief minister under which a detailed minute-to-minute security cover detail of Modi’s visit to any state will be prepared by the local police. The procedure is much the same as followed for those who receive SPG cover like the PM, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul,” said an official.

 And while Modi continues to be on the hit list of extremists, the Gujarat home department has also realised that a large number of women too attend Modi’s rallies. “In a bid to keep a check on that a large number of women officials in plain clothes and uniform have been deployed especially for rallies and programmes which are conducted in open areas,” said principal secretary (home) S K Nanda. Officials added that additional measures like keeping portable bag scanners were also installed in venues and effective jammers were also installed.

“These  steps are taken based on the recommendations of the security wings which meets frequently to review the situation on ground,” said an officer.

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