Explained: Who gets VIP security cover, and how?

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been provided Z plus category security by the Haryana government. The decision of the state government has generated considerable interest as Ram Rahim is serving a 20-year sentence for raping two women, and was released on furlough days ahead of the elections in Punjab on February 20.

Also, the Centre recently provided central security cover to 25 BJP politicians from UP and Punjab until the end of the ongoing elections. Among the beneficiaries are the BJP candidate from Karhal constituency in UP’s Mainpuri, SPS Baghel, who is up against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, and several Congress turncoats in Punjab.

Earlier, after the West Bengal Assembly elections, the Centre had provided central security cover to all 77 BJP MLAs amid reports of political violence in the state.

So, who gets protection from the government, either at the Centre or in a state?

Protection is generally given to someone who holds a position of consequence either in the government or in civil society — hence the informal description “VIP security”.

But the Centre is usually not keen to give protection to individuals — and therefore, a large number of even “important people” whose lives are deemed to be in danger, are provided security by state police forces based on assessments made by the state government.

Who decides the level of security protection an individual needs from the Centre or a state?

The level of security is decided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the case of the Centre, and by the state government in the case of states.

The assessment is based on inputs received from intelligence agencies, which include the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing at the level of the Centre, and the state intelligence department in the case of the state government.

Agencies give a broad subjective assessment of the threat to life or injury to a person from terrorists or any other group based on information generated from their sources. This information can include intercepts of phone conversations, human intelligence, or a credible analysis of an open threat.

By reason of the positions they hold in the government,…