Hyderabad: The top brass of the Special Protection Group — which is entrusted with the task of providing proximate security to the Prime Minister, former PMs and their immediate family members — and the Election Commission of India (ECI) have always had a serious disagreement over inspecting the aircraft used by the Prime Minister during election season. The SPG has the final word over the matter.
While the SPG has made it clear that no outsider, including poll observers, would be allowed to enter the aircraft of the Prime Minister due to security reasons, it says the EC could inspect the box, trunk or any other material they found to be suspicious, only after it is brought out of the aircraft.
An IAS officer, Mr Mohammad Mohsin of the Karnataka cadre, was suspended by the Election Commission on Wednesday night for checking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter in Odisha’s Sambalpur. The officer “had not acted in conformity: with instructions on SPG protectees, the EC said in its order.
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1996 batch IAS officer Mohammad Mohsin has been accused of “insubordination and dereliction on duty” after he carried out a sudden check of Mr Modi’s copter which delayed the Prime Minister by 15 minutes.
“This issue often arises during election time and the EC officials and SPG along with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) often disagree on a few aspects. We have made it clear time and again that no one can be allowed to enter the helicopter used by the PM. We do not want the world to know what security equipment and weapons we carry,'' a former top SPG official told Deccan Chronicle.
Another former SPG official said the action against the IAS officer was justified. There was never an occasion when a poll observer has had to check the PM’s convoy or aircraft, he added.
“No Prime Minister carries trunks or suitcases or has suspicious things (like cash) in it. During Dr Manmohan Singh’s tenure, he hardly carried any personal belonging as he rarely addressed public meetings. Mr Modi often carries a few sets of clothes with him since he addresses four to five public meetings in a single day and needs to change. Besides, he carries some notes too. The SPG must be in the know of everything that the protectee is carrying and it is our job to know,” the official said.
He said that it was the first time that a poll observer had checked a Prime Minister’s helicopter and the SPG bosses did not take it lying down.
“The SPG works on the motto of ‘zero error’ and we cannot take any risk with the security detail. Therefore, during election time, any unauthorised personnel other than the SPG are not allowed to inspect the aircraft,'' a former top official of SPG said....