Security breach or politics: Modi’s visit to Punjab sparks a row between parties


Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. (ANI Photo)

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi claims that “barely 700 people turned up at the rally site which forced the Prime Minister to retrace his steps”

Our Bureau
Chandigarh/New Delhi

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed at Bathinda from where he was to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter. Due to rain and poor visibility, the Prime Minister waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out. When the weather did not improve, it was decided that he would visit the National Martyrs Memorial via road, which would take more than two hours. Around 30 km away from the Memorial, when Modi’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protesters.

The Prime Minister was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. “This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to the Punjab Government. As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready,” the Home Ministry said in a statement. “Also, in view of the contingency plan, the Punjab Government has to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, which were clearly not deployed. After this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda Airport,” it added.

Now, the Punjab government has constituted a high-level committee to probe the security lapses that occurred during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ferozepur. “The committee shall submit its report within three days,” said a spokesperson.

BJP supporters hold Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cut out as they wait at the venue of PM’s rally after it was canceled, in Ferozepur (ANI Photo)

The Central government has said only the Punjab Police knew the precise route of the PM and “never has such police behavior been witnessed”. The Home Ministry has taken cognizance of the “serious security lapse” and has sought a detailed report from the Punjab government. The state government has also been asked to fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action. Despite having intelligence inputs about protesters, Punjab Police did not follow the ‘Blue Book’ and had not prepared a contingency route for Prime Minister’s visit, said a senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official.

Special Protection Group’s (SPG) Blue Book lays down security guidelines for the protection of the Prime Minister. “As per the Blue Book, the state police have to prepare contingency route for the protectee in case of any adverse situation like the one that happened in Punjab during PM’s visit,” said the MHA official.

A team of MHA is seeking details of deployment, picket, rooftop deployment, barricades and other security measures taken by Punjab Police during the Prime Minister’s visit. “A report has been demanded from intelligence agencies over the security lapse,” he added.

But a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach in Punjab, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday claimed that “barely 700 people turned up at the rally site which forced the Prime Minister to retrace his steps” and later the blame was pinned on the Punjab Government citing security threat.

As per a statement issued by the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office, Channi while speaking to reporters here today said, “Punjabis have never ever shied away from making sacrifices for the nation and areas patriot a race as any other in the country.” He further said, “Here at Dana Mandi, the fact of the matter was that barely 700 people turned up at the rally site which forced the PM to retrace his steps and later the blame was pinned on the Punjab Government citing security threat to the Prime Minister.”

“The truth is that five days before the scheduled rally of the Prime Minister, the Special Protection Group (SPG) took over the landing spot, rally site, and each security detail but later on the Prime Minister’s cavalcade suddenly took land route”, said Channi adding the route was cleared by the Special Protection Group (SPG).

He also reiterated that if there is any danger to the Prime Minister then every Punjabi is nationalist enough to shed his blood and face the bullets as they have done before in the service of the nation.

Sounding a note of caution, CM Channi asked the forces inimical to Punjab to stop defaming the State and questioned what the intelligence paraphernalia around the Prime Minister doing had they sensed any threat perception to the latter’s safety.

Likewise, CM Channi also asked the ‘anti-Punjab forces’ to “shun vendetta politics” and advised them to ponder over “why the people, especially farmers, don’t like them.”

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