Act as interface with the public, PM urges SPG

March 31st, 2008 - 4:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday urged the Special Protection Group (SPG) that is responsible for his security to act as an interface between politicians and the people - a job “that requires considerable tact and is not an easy task”. “Political leaders in a democratic society would like to be as close to people as possible. They dislike being cordoned off by a ring of impenetrable security,” he said at the 23rd Raising Day celebrations of the SPG here.

Protecting leaders in a democracy and simultaneously ensuring they are accessible to the general public “requires considerable skill”, the prime minister said, adding that an organisation like the SPG “has, therefore, no alternative, but to act as an interface between the people and the political leaders while ensuring the security of the political leaders.

“This, I realise, is a task that requires considerable tact and is not an easy task,” Manmohan Singh said.

Noting that the SPG’s procedures and practice of handling the public “must continue to evolve along with your professional skills”, he said: “I am aware that sometimes you face criticism on this count.

“While I am conscious that a lot is being done to minimise the inconvenience levels faced by the ordinary citizen, I am sure that a lot more can be done to further professionalise and improve matters.

“Innovative lateral thinking along with an independent approach is perhaps the way ahead,” he said, expressing confidence that the SPG, “as part of its culture of excellence, would endeavour to produce even better results in this sphere in future”.

Turning to the scourge of terrorism, Manmohan Singh said the number of important dignitaries at risk from terrorist threats has increased and “is a source of great concern for governments around the world”.

“We have to work with the international community to devise measures that combat this menace, particularly in democratic countries that are open societies and where people enjoy freedom of movement. Terrorism anywhere is a threat to freedom and democracy everywhere.”

In this context, he reiterated the government’s “firm commitment” to deal with such threats to peace and security, to political stability and economic progress, to social and communal harmony in the country.

“Whatever the source of terrorism, we are determined to root it out and ensure that in a democracy political change can only come through the ballot box and not through the barrel of a gun,” the prime minister maintained.

Referring to the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her police bodyguards in 1984, Manmohan Singh noted that it was also around that time that the scourge of terrorism appeared.

“SPG was, therefore, set up as a committed, disciplined and highly trained outfit, comprising handpicked officers, assigned the exclusive responsibility of providing discreet, yet effective and foolproof security to the highest political office of the country.”

Today, the SPG had developed and evolved into “a formidable force, displaying a high degree of professionalism and the most outstanding level of commitment to its responsibilities.

“It is indeed a matter of pride that India has such a committed and well-trained force, a force that is second to none in the world, for the security of the highest political leadership.”

Speaking about the evolution of the SPG, he said its adoption of “proximate use of force” was indicative of its quest to equip itself with the most appropriate techniques to face the challenges that lie ahead.

“I am happy to learn that SPG is thinking of setting up a new counter sniper unit. This is indicative of forward thinking that we associate with the SPG.

“I am also happy to note that the SPG proposes to build capabilities in the field of bomb disposal and is making a determined bid to equip itself to deal with threats from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents.”

The prime minister added that the government “will ensure that SPG gets all that it requires to upgrade the skills of its personnel and the organisation”.

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