New security guidelines
No one, not even Ministers, will be allowed to come too close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi unless cleared by the Special Protection Group (SPG), the Union Home Ministry said on Tuesday in its new security guidelines to States.
There has been an “all-time high” threat to Mr. Modi and he is the “most valuable target” in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections, officials privy to the issue said.
The SPG is believed to have advised Mr. Modi, the main campaigner for the ruling BJP, to cut down on road shows, which invite a bigger threat, and instead address public rallies, which are easier to manage, an official said.
The Prime Minister’s close protection team (CPT) has been briefed about the new set of rules and the threat assessment, and instructed to frisk even a Minister or an officer, if necessary.
Mr. Modi’s security apparatus was reviewed recently after the Pune police told a court on June 7 that they had seized a “letter” from one of the five people arrested for having alleged “links” with the banned CPI (Maoist), another official said.
The purported letter allegedly mentioned a plan to “assassinate” Mr. Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”, the police had told the court.
During Mr. Modi’s recent visit to West Bengal, a man was able to break through six layers of security to touch his feet, sending the security agencies into a tizzy.
Following these developments, Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain to review the Prime Minister’s security.
In the meeting, Mr. Singh had directed that all necessary measures be taken in consultation with other agencies to suitably strengthen security arrangements.
Maoist-hit States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal were termed sensitive by the Home Ministry and the police chiefs of these States were told to be extra careful when Mr. Modi visits, the official said.
Security agencies are believed to be specially monitoring the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI), an outfit that the government believes is a front for radical groups.