Gandhi family security: CRPF writes to states and UTs, seeks new battalion

The CRPF has written to states and UTs about the new protocols for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her family members security and will soon seek sanctions to raise at least one more battalion for the task, officials said on Tuesday.

The central government earlier this month replaced the Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover given to Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by the 'Z-plus' security of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

The paramilitary force will also seek sanctions to procure specialised armoured vehicles in the light of these high-profile persons, along with former prime minister Manmohan Singh, being sent under its security cover, the officials said.

The CRPF, through the Union home ministry, has written to state and union territory governments about the new protocols that came into force after the Centre's decision, they said.

It has also informed states and UTs that the Gandhi family has been accorded an advance security liaison (ASL) protocol and this will require the "support" of their intelligence, police and administrative machinery prior to any of the five new protectees -- Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Priyanka, Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur -- reaching their jurisdictions on official or personal tours.

The Singhs SPG cover was withdrawn by the government in August.

The officials said a special CRPF team will travel at least 24 hours in advance to these locations and liaise with local authorities to sanitise the venue and isolate the areas that the VVIPs will visit.

"They will need to be given all administrative and police support along with route plans and travel maps. The CRPF will now do what the SPG did," a senior official said.

The states and UTs have been informed about the 'yellow book' procedure in this context and all the 28 VVIP security bases of the CRPF in the country will be used to execute this job, the officials said.

While the CRPF has been allowed to use SPG's bullet-proof vehicles earmarked for the Gandhi's, as in the case of Singh, the force will seek the Union home ministry's approval to procure new armoured vehicles as it now has some "very high-threat" prone VVIPs under its cover, including home minister Amit Shah.

The over 3-lakh personnel strength force has about 57 VVIP protectees under its cover at present.

It has also been decided to seek one to two new battalions (about 1,000-2,000 more personnel) for the CRPF's VVIP security unit as the task has expanded and requires huge manpower, the officials said.

CRPF has deployed about 700 personnel to carry out security tasks for the new protectees-- the Gandhi's, former PM Singh and his wife-- while a good number are deployed for other VIPs like Shah, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani and his wife Neeta among others.

As of now, the force has four battalions (about 4,000 personnel) inducted for VVIP security duties.

The commandos of this unit are armed with Israel-made X-95 and MP5 rifles and Glock pistols apart from an advanced communication system.

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