Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s Lodhi Estate home witnessed a security breach on November 26, three weeks after the Centre reassigned the responsibility for the protection of the Gandhis to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from the Special Protection Group (SPG), even while maintaining it at the highest Z Plus level.
According to people familiar with the incident who spoke on condition of anonymity, a SUV drove into the compound and up to the porch. Its occupants wanted to meet Gandhi and click selfies with her, the people added.
Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra confirmed the breach to news agency IANS. However, there was confusion regarding the other details. Some of the people said there were five people in the car; others said there were seven. Some said the people met Gandhi and took selfies with her; others said CRPF turned them back from the porch. Some said the people left after taking the photographs; others said they were questioned by CRPF
What is clear is that the SUV entered from the access controlled area. The access control is managed by the Delhi Police in coordination with CRPF. The people familiar with the matter said Gandhi’s office took up the issue with the top brass of CRPF.
The Congress party has already protested the removal of the SPG protection and the breach of security is likely to intensify those protests.
Minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy told reporters he was not aware of the alleged breach. “I am not aware. I am just coming out of the Lok Sabha. Let me take the information from the police… I will discuss with my officers,” Reddy said.
CRPF officials remained tight-lipped about the incident. The paramilitary force took over the security of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi from SPG on November 10, a day after the government made an announcement to the effect. SPG secured the Gandhi family for over 28 years. In September, the SPG cover of former PM Mammohan Singh was replaced by a CRPF detail.
Congress MP Amee Yajnik said: “I have no information on the issue, but, if what you are telling is the truth, then you can see what is happening when SPG cover is removed for reasons best known to the government.”
On November 27, the Lok Sabha passed a bill to amend the SPG Act. It is likely to come up in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. According to the amendment, the SPG will now protect only the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence. It will also provide security for former prime ministers and their immediate family members (who stay at the residence allotted ) for a period of five years from the date the person ceases to be PM.
A senior Delhi Police officer who asked not to be named said the breach was the result of “confusion” and a “communication gap” between the CRPF and Delhi Police personnel. “The security personnel were told that some people were coming to meet Rahul Gandhi in a car. When the car arrived, the security staff checked the vehicle but did not ask about its occupants. Later, it turned out that it was not the vehicle in which Rahul Gandhi’s visitors were supposed to come.”
The New Delhi district police under whose territorial jurisdiction the residence of Priyanka Gandhi falls, said it did not receive any complaints. “No complaints were received in the local police station” said Deepak Yadav, additional deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi).
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