Listen to this article:
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Punjab visit was cut short on Wednesday after a “major security lapse” as he was stuck on a flyover for 20 minutes due to a blockade by protesters, prompting the Union home ministry to seek an immediate report from the state government and strict action against those responsible.
According to a home ministry statement, the prime minister landed this morning at Bathinda from where he was to go to the national martyrs’ memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter. However, due to rain and poor visibility, he 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 marytrs’ memorial via road, which would take more than two hours. He proceeded to travel by road after necessary confirmation of security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police,” the statement said.
Around 30 km away from the memorial, when Modi’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors.
“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 statement said.
“After the serious lapse in security, his convoy decided to return without attending an event at a martyrs’ memorial,” a home ministry statement said.
The prime minister also could not attend a rally in Ferozepur.
The home ministry has asked the Punjab government to fix responsibility for the lapse and take strict action.
It said the prime minister’s schedule and travel plan were communicated well in advance to the Punjab government and as per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready.
According to the laid down procedure, an alternative route has to be kept in readiness for which clearance of the roads along with deployment of security personnel has to be ensured by the state government, an official said.
In the statement, the home ministry said that 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,” the statement said
The home ministry, taking cognisance of this serious security lapse, has sought a detailed report from the Punjab government.
The incident drew an angry reaction from BJP president J.P. Nadda who accused the Congress government in Punjab of trying “all possible tricks to scuttle” the prime minister’s programmes in the state.
“To make matters worse, [Punjab] CM [Charanjit Singh] Channi refused to get on the phone to either address the matter or solve it. The tactics used by the Congress government in Punjab would pain anyone who believes in democratic principles,” Nadda said in a tweet.
To make matters worse, CM Channi refused to get on the phone to either address the matter or solve it.
The tactics used by the Congress government in Punjab would pain any one who believes in democratic principles.
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) January 5, 2022
However, according to the Indian Express, Channi told a news channel, “There was no security lapse. PM’s road plans were made at the last minute. He was supposed to go by helicopter. I was up late at night overseeing security arrangements for his rally. 70,000 chairs were put up for rally but only 700 people turned up.”
(With inputs from PTI)