From SPG to 'Blue Book' rules: Here's everything you need to know about how the prime minister is protected from threats

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Ferozepur rally in Punjab was cancelled on Wednesday after the Ministry of Home Affairs cited a major 'security lapse'. This has brought attention to the agencies who are in charge of the PM's security and protocols that are set for his travel

FP Staff January 06, 2022 09:08:27 IST
From SPG to 'Blue Book' rules: Here's everything you need to know about how the prime minister is protected from threats

SPG agents stand guard as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy is held up in Punjab’s Ferozepur district on Wednesday. News18

A huge row has erupted after the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trapped on a flyover for 20 minutes by protesters in Punjab in what is being reported as a serious security lapse.

The incident quickly snowballed into a political blame game with the BJP accusing the Congress of of "murderous intentions", while Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, denied any lapse, saying he would die for the prime minister but he was never in danger.

Please read: How security arrangement for Narendra Modi’s Punjab visit was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster

In light of this incident, we take a look at how the prime minister of India is guarded and the Special Protection Group (SPG), whose sole responsibility is protecting the PM.

Who is the SPG?

The Special Protection Group is responsible for the safety and security of the prime minister. The SPG protects the prime minister at all times both in India and abroad, as well as his immediate family members residing with them at their official residence.

The agency was formed in 1988 by an Act of the Parliament of India. In 2019, the law was amended and as it stands today, SPG protection is granted only to the prime minister of India.

Headquartered at Dwarka in southwest Delhi, the SPG draws its personnel — both men and women — from the Central Armed Police Forces (such as the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police) and the Railway Protection Force Service.

They are all volunteers — the best of the best, who have made the cut after a rigorous, three-tier screening process.
One would normally notice them in close proximity to the prime minister always dressed in black, Western-style formal business suits, with sunglasses, and carry a two-way encrypted communication earpiece, and concealed handguns.

How do they plan security for the PM?

As stated before, the SPG always surrounds the prime minister and guards him.

For visits to the states, the SPG follows the instructions as stated in the 'Blue Book'.

The instructions in the 'Blue Book' are issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Blue Book mandates that three days before any visit by the prime minister, the SPG holds a Advance Security Liaison with everyone involved in securing the event, including Intelligence Bureau officials in the concerned state, state police officials and the concerned district magistrate.

At this meeting, everything, including the smallest of details is chalked out. The meeting discusses the PM's travel, how he will be escorted and decisions are taken along with the inputs of the central and local intelligence.

Contingency plans are made by the agencies at all levels for any emergency situation.

For those wondering about the prime minister’s convoy during a visit — even that is pre-decided. According to reports, the first car is the advance pilot warning vehicle, technical car followed by the VVIP car and the ambulance along with other cars. There is also a spare car as part of the convoy.

What happens to sudden plan changes?

It’s not often that the predetermined plan is changed, however, it does occur sometimes.

In case of that, the contingency plan, which was thought of, comes into effect. For instance, in the case of Narendra Modi’s Ferozepur rally. Earlier, it was decided that Prime Minister Modi would travel to National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter. However, owing to the bad Weather Conditions , it was decided that Modi would visit the National Marytrs Memorial via road, which would take more than two hours. He proceeded to travel by road after necessary confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police.

What followed was a total fiasco, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was left stranded on a flyover in Punjab for 15-20 minutes after farm protesters blocked the route of his cavalcade.

Has there ever been a breach of security?

A security breach worth noting was that in 2006. Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's security was breached in Trivandrum as his pilot vehicle led him to a byway of the city instead of leading him to the Raj Bhawan.

Has the SPG ever fired at someone?

According to report, the only time that SPG agents have fired at the public was on 25 January 2000.

A group of college students had forcibly entered the compartment of a train in which former prime minister Chandra Shekhar was travelling. (Please note, SPG security is also granted to former prime ministers; according to the new amendment the security is now granted for only a year after the step down from office).

The train had halted at Sadat station in Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur district.

As a scuffle broke out when the security personnel tried to evict them, the SPG fired at the group, killing one student and injuring another.

With inputs from agencies

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