Narendra Modi tops the hit-list of homegrown terror groups as well as those operating from Pakistani soil. The Intelligence Bureau receives at least 30 to 50 alerts ahead of each of his rallies.
With no SPG protection, the task to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial nominee way from all the threats he faces is daunting. Vicky Nanjappa reports
The security of Narendra Modi has left agencies in a tizzy. The Intelligence Bureau receives at least 30 to 50 alerts ahead of Modi’s visit to a state and none of these are taken lightly.
Every alert is analysed and cross verified. The IB, which intercepts and analyses these alerts, also coordinates with state agencies. “It is a cumbersome process, but we need to keep a tab every second. Not always does a threat emerge from a place he is about to visit. Modules in other states are sometimes planning attacks and hence a country-wide analysis of the alerts is being done every minute,” an IB official tells Rediff.com.
The bureau has formed a team of 100 that only looks into threats that Modi faces. After the Patna blasts ahead of Modi’s rally last October, more pressure has mounted on the IB. The intelligence had received an alert before his visit, which they ignored, officials confess.
In addition to crunching information and decoding the alerts, the IB also has to ensure that the message is passed on in quick time to state units, who then tip off the local police. The police have a bigger role to play, as they are primarily responsible for the security of any politician who visits the state.
The district administration too is kept in the loop about Modi’s visit at least 20 days prior. The local police then collect all possible intelligence from central agencies. Suspects or notorious elements are rounded off first. Then they study the route map and sanitise every shop along his path. 1,500 policemen are deployed in any town or village that he visits.
In most Modi rallies, drones are deployed to keep a close watch on the movement of the public. In addition to, this there is a thorough verification of the tenants in the city as terrorists often rent out places in vicinity of the site of attack, security officials told rediff.com.
Modi is not entitled to Special Protection Group. However, following the Patna blasts agencies have left no stone unturned to ensure that his protection is as good if not better than the SPG cover.
Today, Modi’s security ring comprises 45 commandos from the National Security Guard and nearly 40 personnel from the Gujarat police.
The area where his chopper or aircraft lands is completely sanitised. The roads leading up to the venue are completely cordoned off and there are checks every five minutes. The dog and bomb squads are on duty all the time.
Once he takes the road, the security team ensures that there is not a single vehicle moving around. The roads are closed to all expect his team and convoy. Only a select few leaders from the local unit are allowed close to him and this too after verification and checks.
The norms for journalists attending a Modi rally or conference too have been altered. Mediapersons have to submit a form with the local Bharatiya Janata Party office along with their photographs. This list is sent to the police commissioner and only once this is approved are passes issued to journalists. Similar rules apply to other dignitaries, who are attending the rally.
The stage from which Modi addresses a rally is thoroughly checked. The local BJP unit, which usually puts up the stage, consults Modi’s security team. A security team arrives four days prior to the event to inspect the stage and only once this clearance is given can the organisers go ahead. Minutes before the rally begins, the venue and stage are inspected yet again. There is also a 50 to 60 feet gap between the stage and the audience. In the case of high-rise buildings in the vicinity, snipers are deployed.
Image: Narendra Modi is surrounded by his security personnel as he arrives to attend a public meeting at Somnath, Gujarat. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters