Security categories in India

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In India, security details are provided to some high-risk individuals by the police and local government. Depending on the threat perception to the person, the category is divided into four tiers: Z+ (highest level), Z, Y and X. Individuals under the security blanket include the President, Vice-President, Prime-Minister, Supreme Court & High Court Judges, Service Chiefs of Indian Armed Forces,Governors of State, Chief Ministers and Cabinet Ministers.[1]

  • SPG category – Strength of security detail is Classified
  • Z+ category has a security cover of 36 personnel
  • Z category has a security cover of 22 personnel
  • Y category has a security cover of 11 personnel
  • X category has a security cover of 2 personnel

The Z+ Security is given by the National Security Guard commandos. They are armed with sophisticated MP5 guns and modern communication gadgets and each member of the team are adept in martial arts and unarmed combat skills. Currently seventeen VIPs are provided with such protection.[2] The 'Z' category entails security cover by the Delhi police or the ITBP or CRPF personnel and one escort car. The 'Y' category encompasses two personal security officers (PSOs) and the 'X' category, one PSO.[3]

The SPG (Special Protection Group), NSG (National Security Guards), ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) are the agencies responsible for providing securities to VVIPs, VIPs, politicians, high-profile celebrities and sportspersons. The NSG is used extensively to guard VIPs and VVIPs, especially those in the Z+ category. Many NSG personnel are seconded to the Special Protection Group (SPG) which guards the Prime Minister.


In some cases being placed in a category is viewed as a status symbol by politicians, and many use their clout to secure a Z+ security cover. This is criticized often by media as a waste of taxpayer's money on less deserving candidates.[4] Former Home Minister P.Chidambaram phased out the use of the NSG for VIP protection in all but the most serious cases. But controversies arose as many politicians remained under Z+ cover while many bureaucrats were moved down to Y.[5]

In 2014 as a part of Z security, 25 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and the Punjab Police were put in attendance for the security of a saint who has been declared clinically dead by doctors.[6]


Rajbir Singh, a famous encounter specialist was killed in March 2008 despite a Z-level security cover.[7] While under security cover, Former Union minister Pramod Mahajan was shot dead by his brother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by a member of her own security detail. Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a blast.[8]