End of VIP status symbol

Amidst the raging controversies around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), some positive aspects of governance should not be missed. On January12, the NDA Government effected a major VIP security cut by taking away the National Security Guard (NSG) ‘black cat commandos’ from this task. Earlier the Government had withdrawn SPG cover from the Nehru-Gandhi family. The NSG was conceptualised and raised in 1984 to counter terror attacks across the country. Over time the NSG was used to provide proximate mobile security cover to VIPs and are armed with sophisticated assault weapons.

A VIP given this category of security has about two dozen personnel guarding him/her. Foremost amongst those VIPs entitled to this category of security are Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath. This duty is now being assigned to para-military forces. This decision was taken after a careful audit was done of the NSG. A senior official in the security establishment has said that VIP security duties were weighing down the NSG whose primary task is to counter-terror and prevent hijacking and secure critical installations. After withdrawing the NSG commandos from security duty about 450 elite security personnel will be deployed to duties specifically mandated for them.

In India, it has become fashionable for VIPs to use the NSG for security duties, thereby diluting the very purpose of their mandate which is to ensure that critical installations are not subject to terror attacks. For VIPs in India having the NSG to guard them is more of a status symbol. It is ridiculous that the NSG should be used to secure the lives of people who are not carrying out any national duties such as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her family. Even Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are MPs and as such are entitled the security allowed to other MPs. But for a long time they have been given the services of the elite Black Cat Commandos. Thankfully the NSG will now be freed from this routine duty.

Those used to such VIP treatment will of course whine and make an issue of this loss of status. They include many from the present political dispensation and those presently in the Opposition. Out of a total of thirteen VIPs who require Z-plus security, many do not require the same level of security today. A case in point is that of former Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi. Time has come for Government to decide that those requiring Z-plus security cover should manage their own private security. All of them can afford this. Why should an elite force with a specific mandate of counter-terrorism be burdened with the security of politicians?

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