By Sumir Kaul
Srinagar/New Delhi, Jan 6 (PTI) Four former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, including Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad, are likely to lose their Special Security Group (SSG) protection as the union territory’s administration has decided to wind up the elite unit established in 2000, officials said on Thursday.
The move comes a little over 19 months after the Centre had issued a gazette notification — Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020 — on March 31, 2020, amending the Special Security Group Act of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir government by omitting a clause that provided former chief ministers and their families with SSG security.
Officials said the decision was taken by the Security Review Coordination Committee, a group that oversees the threat perception of important leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.
The officials said the SSG will be “right-sized” by reducing the number of the elite force to the “bare minimum”. It will be headed by an officer below the rank of Superintendent of Police as against Director, who is of the rank of Inspector General of Police and above.
However, the officials feel there was a re-think over the downsizing of the SSG as some experts within the police force feel that this may hamper the preparedness of the elite unit.
The SSG will now be entrusted with the security of serving chief ministers and their immediate family members.
The decision will entail the withdrawal of the security cover of Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and two other former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti at a time when a number of terror incidents have taken place in Srinagar.
All these former chief ministers except Azad reside in Srinagar.
However, Farooq Abdullah and Azad will continue to be provided the security cover of the National Security Guard, also known as Black cat commandoes, as both of them are Z-plus protectees.
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba will continue to have Z-plus security cover while in Jammu and Kashmir, but are likely to have reduced security outside the union territory.
The leaders will be provided security by the district police as well as the security wing based on the threat assessment, the officials said.
Some of the SSG personnel would be posted with the security wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police for “close protection team”, they said.
The officials said the remaining SSG personnel are likely to be posted to other wings so that the police force can make the best use of their training and knowledge.
Vehicles and other gadgets will be transferred to the security wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.