Three months after the Gandhi family was stripped of the Special Protection Group (SPG) security, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra may well have to stand in queue and go through the regular airport security drill like any other flyer, without special privileges at the airport, says a report authored by senior journalist R Rajagopalan in Rediff.
Earlier, Gandhis were accorded with special status as their car drove up to the staircase of the aircraft, bypassing the security check and boarding process.
The report states that the airport privileges should have ended when the trio was delisted from the SPG protection but the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Airports Authority of India were informally asked to allow the earlier practice to continue. However, the matter came to the fore when a vehicle of a former SPG protectee recently rammed into another car near the aircraft, the airport security threatened to file an FIR.
The issue was resolved with the CRPF backing off. However, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security decided to ask the CRPF to ensure that their protectees give in themselves to the security drill.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security brought to the attention of the Home Ministry that while Union Ministers, the Chief Justice of India, former Prime Ministers and members submit themselves to regular security drills before boarding aircraft, the special privileges granted to Gandhi family was engendering security and legal issues.
According to the report, If the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah agrees to the proposal tabled by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the Gandhi trio will have to go through the airport security check and stand in the queue alongside fellow passengers to board their flights.
Last year, the central government replaced the SPG category status of the Gandhi family with Z-plus security citing a report by intelligence agencies who had conducted a detailed review of threat perception of the Gandhis and had advised downgrading of security protection accorded to them from SPG cover to ‘Z-plus security. The Congress had then accused the BJP of perpetuating vendetta politics to which Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched an offensive against the Congress party referring to the number of instances SPG cover was flouted by the Gandhi family members.