Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s road shows, a critical part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s successful election campaigns, might be scaled down due an “all-time high” threat assessment, according to the ministry of home affairs.
The ministry has issued new security guidelines for the Prime Minister to states and Union territories that are so stringent that not even ministers will be allowed to come too close to the Prime Minister unless they are cleared by the Special Protection Group (SPG). The close protection team (CPT) of the Prime Minister’s security has been briefed about the new set of rules and the threat assessment and been instructed to frisk even ministers and senior bureaucrats if necessary. CPT is part of the SPG which was created to protect prime ministers and their families after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.
The unprecedented move comes in the backdrop of an “all-time high” threat assessment, senior intelligence officials said. On June 7, Pune Police told a court they had seized a “letter” that mentioned a plan to assassinate Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”. The police claimed the letter was recovered from the Delhi residence of one of the five people arrested for having alleged “links” with the banned CPI (Maoist). Apart from the home ministry’s guidelines, the SPG has advised the Prime Minister to cut down on road shows, the officials added. “Road shows are harder to manage, owing to high exposure. In metropolitan cities there are high rise buildings which pose security threats to the PM (when he is on road shows),” a senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The PM’s security apparatus was reviewed after the Pune police’s admission to the court. Subsequently, Union home minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting on the issue with national security advisor Ajit Doval, home secretary Rajiv Gauba and intelligence bureau director Rajiv Jain.
Retired IPS officer K Durgaprasad, who has headed the SPG, said the three most important factors to ensure VVIP or VIP security include access control, anti-sabotage checks and anticipation. Another senior government official, who asked not to be identified, said the home ministry’s new guidelines call for restricting the number of people who have access to the PM. Security agencies were further alarmed at during Modi’s recent visit to West Bengal,where a man was able to break through six layers of security to touch his feet. The MHA has also been red-flagging the fact that details of the PM’s tours are being leaked on social media prior to his visits.