#DefenseDiaries: The men who keep PM Modi safe
Whenever PM Narendra Modi speaks publicly, all our eyes and ears are firmly towards him. However, there's always one group of men hawkishly gazing at and mostly around him, ready to act in a split-second against the slightest threat to our nation's leader. These men, seen in the background, are the PM's elite bodyguards - the Special Protection Group (SPG). Here's all about them.
Up until 1981, the PM's security was handled by Special Security District of the Delhi Police. In 1981, the Intelligence Bureau raised a Special Task Force (STF) to provide a security ring around the PM and to escort him/her. The SPG was conceived in 1985, following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, to become the single security organization to oversee and coordinate the PM's security.
The SPG is entrusted with handling everything from anti-sabotage checks, sanitizing of venues and personal security details. The SPG secure the PM's place of stay and accompany him whenever he steps outside. SPG personnel have complete authority to decide who the PM can and can't meet for security reasons. They also handle the security of all former PMs as well as their families.
The SPG relies upon carefully laid out standard operating procedures to plan all aspects of the PM's security. Every event involving the PM, ranging from election rallies to state visits, witness a massive security drill. During foreign trips, the SPG disembark from the plane before the PM to provide him security cover. They are always armed with pistols, sub-machine guns and sometimes, assault rifles.
The SPG draws its personnel from the central paramilitary forces, including BSF, ITBP, CRPF, and CISF. Recruits must first clear a physical and written exam, and undergo a psychological evaluation. They undergo three months of training in unarmed and armed combat. Personnel who clear the training enter the SPG. Members of the PM's close protection team must undergo another three months of training.
"A cool and calm demeanor, physical fitness, ability to think on your feet and being a sharp shot are some of the qualities required to be a part of the PM's entourage", said DP Tyagi, a CISF commandant part of ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi's entourage.
The standard uniform of SPG personnel is safari suits or blazers with ties. The government has granted them a dress allowance of Rs. 27,800, the highest allowance among government employees. Just like their marksmanship, the dressing of SPG personnel must be sharp as they often accompany the PM during his meetings with foreign leaders and dignitaries, both home and abroad.
SPG members have a fixed tenure of six-years but this can be extended. The director of the SPG has a fixed two-year tenure. SPG personnel have immense responsibility on their shoulders. The stressful job comes with prestige and some perks too. Personnel receive a near 50% salary hike over their parent units and have a chance to go on foreign tours.