Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been accorded a ‘Z+’ VVIP security cover of NSG black cat commandos by the centre owing to threats from insurgents and militants like the ULFA and Bodo. Officials said the Union Home Ministry recently sanctioned the armed commandos’ cover after an intelligence report by central security agencies. Assam police had also recommended to secure Sonowal by a well-trained and equipped group of security men.
They said the task has been given to the elite black cat commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG), which last time accorded such security cover to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh in 2013. Officials said a contingent of about 35 commandos will soon take over their duty in Assam’s capital Guwahati, where the Chief Minister is based. An NSG team has begun making final arrangements in this regard.
They said insurgent activities from banned groups likeULFA and NDFB pose a threat to Sonowal who was sworn-in last year after BJP came to power.
Recently, the Centre had decided to remove a similar cover of NSG commandos to two former Assam Chief Ministers– Tarun Gogoi and Prafulla K Mahanta — and replace it with the commandos of the CRPF. With this latest task, NSG will have 14 protectees under its cover.
The force, for some years now, had an all-time low number of VVIPs to secure after it was being said that it would not be burdened by such duties so that it can effectively focus on its core job of carrying out counter-terror and counter-hijack operations.
The force, raised in 1984, has not been taking any VVIP security duties since 2014 and those under its cover at present include Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh (UP) ChiefMinister Akhilesh Yadav, former UP chief minister Mayawati and senior BJP leader L K Advani among others.