Rain or shine they are always on the move, protecting VVIPs and VIPs, and even after an 18-hour duty and over 20 k.m. of sprint, traces of fatigue are rarely seen on their faces. The inference is about the ‘Rope Party’ which forms part of the present-day layered security arrangement for VVIPs.
Ever since the assassination of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, security for the VIPs and VVIPs has undergone a sea change. Specialised forces such as National Security Guards (NSG) and Special Protection Group (SPG) at the central level and Quick Reaction Team (QRT) and Intelligence Security Wing in the state were raised to protect high-value targets.
In that layered arrangement is this group – Rope Party. They comprise mainly young recruits of the Armed Reserve Police and the real legwork is done by this group. Dressed in khaki trousers and white T-shirts this group either jogs or sprints along the VVIP convoy and unlike the NSG or SPG or for that matter the ISW they carry no weapon or have the glamour of their counterparts.
The young and athletic personnel on some days even jog over 20 k.m., especially when the VVIPs are on election campaigns, padayatras or district tours. Their only weapon is the nylon rope of a few metres. While the VVIP travels in a van or bus they are mostly on foot jogging alongside the vehicle and are the first to the reach the roadside public meeting point. And their duty is to form a human chain around the VVIP holding the rope to restrain the public from coming too close to the VVIP, whom they refer as ‘target’.
“We pick the best from the force. They are normally below the age of 25 and are good cross country runners. They are trained in all aspects of VVIP protection, including bomb detection,” said a senior officer of the Armed Reserve Force. “We know that we stand first in the firing line but we take it up as a game, just like any cross country race. We have excellent teamwork and compete with each other while running along with the convoy, and that keeps us going,” said a member of the rope party.
Their physical training grind includes a run of over 3 km on a daily basis. For each VVIP visit we have three to four teams, each comprising 8 to 10 constables, who work in phases. The members of QRT are also used at times as rope party. It depends on the value of the VVIP. If PM or CM comes then QRT is used as rope party, informed the officer.
In the line of duty they crave only for a few words of appreciation. “There is no special incentive for us, but if a senior officer such as the Commissioner lauds our effort, it makes us run that extra mile with ease,” said a team member.