Rahul Gandhi Ignored SPG Advice, Indulged In Nearly One Safety Breach A Day: Government Sources On Protection Withdrawal

Sonia Gandhi with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra. (Rediff)

As news trickled in on Special Protection Group (SPG) cover being withdrawn from the Gandhis, government sources suggest there's a long list of violation that may have also played a part in this decision of the central government.

Rahul Gandhi:

* Rahul Gandhi, during his 2005-2014, travelled in non-Bullet Resistant vehicles (non-BR) on 18 visits to different parts of the country. This, was a serious violation.

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* Since 2015 and till May of this year, there has been 1,892 occasions when the former Congress President travelled in a non-BR vehicle in Delhi. This amounts to almost one incident every day.

Sources also say, there have been 247 occasions, till June this year, when he travelled in a non-BR vehicle outside Delhi.

* The former Congress President even travelled on the roof of the vehicle on a few occasions during internal tours in violation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and security advices, say sources.

* During his visit at Banaskantha in Gujarat on 4 August, 2017, there was a serious violation that could have endangered Gandhi's life. Sources say, "while he was travelling in a non-BR car against the security advice of SPG, there was an incident of stone-pelting on the non-BR private car of the Protectee in which the SPG PSO was injured."

The injury could have been avoided had the SPG BR-car was used, as advised by the premium agency. This matter was raised by the Congress Party in the ongoing Parliament session which was followed by the Home Minister making a statement in Lok Sabha. He told the House that Rahul Gandhi did not avail SPG BR vehicles for 100 occasions out of his 121 visits between April 2015 to June 2017.

* Out of total 156 foreign visits that he undertook since 1991 he did not take SPG officers on 143 visits. In most of these 143 foreign visits he shared the travel itinerary at eleventh hours preventing the SPG officers from accompanying him on the tours.

Gandhi also dragged the name of SPG on a few occasions in the last 5 years in his public speeches, which the government of the day feels is 'undesirable'.

Sonia Gandhi:

Sonia Gandhi did not use SPG BR vehicle on 50 occasions while travelling in New Delhi from 2015 to May 2019. On all but one of these occasions, Rahul Gandhi drove her non-BR car. She also undertook 13 unscheduled visits to various places in the country in the last five years (till May 2019) during which she used non-BR cars. She also did not take SPG officers on 24 of her foreign visits since 2015.

Priyanka Gandhi:

* Since 2015 till May 2019, she did not use SPG BR vehicles for her travel on 339 occasions within Delhi and on 64 occasions at other places in the country. She used non-BR vehicles against the advice of SPG officers on these visits.

* Out of total 99 foreign visits that she has undertaken since 1991, she took SPG security cover only on 21 occasions and refused to take the security for other 78 visits. On most such tours, she shared her travel plan at the eleventh hours rendering it impossible for SPG to depute officers for her security.

* Since May 2014, on several occasions, Priyanka Gandhi had levelled allegations against SPG officers that they were collecting her personal and confidential information and sharing with unauthorised persons. She even threatened top officials of SPG to drag them into legal action. SPG has from time to time countered such allegations by clarifying that it confines its work to strictly the official charter.

(With IANS inputs)

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