The government is set to increase by an unprecedented 125 per cent the manpower of the Special Security Group (SSG) that provides security cover to highly protected VIPs like Union ministers, the National Security Advisor (NSA), some Chief Ministers and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief.
The SSG, a wing of the paramilitary Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), is a specialised force like the National Security Guard (NSG) and currently has 1,200 personnel. And the government is going to increase this by 1,500.
Well informed sources in the Union Home Ministry told IANS that the sanction to increase the force is expected by December-end or by early January.
The decision has been pending with the Home Ministry's Border Management Division for over a month now after the CISF requested the ministry for the induction of 1,500 more personnel in the SSG wing.
SSG commandos, who are trained at par with NSG personnel, currently provide security to 75 VIPs under "Z plus", "Z", "Y Plus", "Y" and "X" categories across India.
Those given SSG security cover include Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Minister of Communication Manoj Sinha, NSA Ajit Doval, former Union Minister and nine-time lawmaker from Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal.
CISF officers said the enhanced manpower would come as a relief for the SSG, which will, by 2018-end, take over the security responsibilities of all VIPs who are currently being protected by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The Home Ministry asked the CISF on November 23 to take over the VIP security responsibilities from the ITBP and the CRPF.
By 2018-end, only the CISF and NSG will have the mandate of guarding VIPs in the country. The Elite Special Protection Group provides security to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, President and Vice President and their immediate families.
As per the order, the security of 92 VIPs so far under the CRPF and ITBP will be given in a phased manner to the SSG, which was established in 2006 for the purpose.
Till now, the CRPF provides security to 75 VIPs while the ITBP secures 17 such persons.
After increase in its strength, the SSG will start providing security cover to BJP President Amit Shah, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani, among others. All of them are now under CRPF protection.
It will also have to take over the security of Jammu and Kashmir politicians like Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and CPI-M legislator Yusuf Tarigami as well as of some judges protected by the ITBP.
Apart from providing VIP security through its SSG wing, the CISF, which came into existence in 1969, is mandated to provide security to critical infrastructure like nuclear installations, space establishments, airports, seaports, power plants, sensitive government buildings, heritage monuments and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation,