New Delhi: Controversy over security lapses surrounding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab reached the Supreme Court, with the matter likely to be heard tomorrow. The state has set up a high-level team that will file a report in three days.
A senior advocate, Maninder Singh, filed a plea in the Supreme Court this morning, saying “serious lapses on the part of the Punjab government” needed a thorough probe. “It has to be ensured this doesn’t happen again,” he said, to which Chief Justice NV Ramana asked him to file a copy of the petition with the state. The court will likely hear this issue tomorrow.
The Punjab government – which has come under heavy fire from the BJP with an election due in less than two months – has formed a two-member panel. Justice Mehtab Gill, a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and Anurag Verma, Principal Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, will submit their report within three days.
A massive row broke out Wednesday when PM Modi, who was on his way to Bathinda for an election rally, was stopped on a flyover after his convoy was blocked by protesting farmers.
The Prime Minister had been scheduled to fly to the rally in Ferozepur by helicopter, but the plan changed because of cloudy weather. He opted to drive the 100km instead, which should have taken two hours. His cavalcade was stopped 10 km from the venue.
Visuals showed the car waiting on the road. The Prime Minister could be seen sitting inside, while members of the elite Special Protection Group stood around the vehicle in a circle. Other cars in the motorcade were moved to form another layer of protection for the PM car.
This morning the Home Ministry criticised Punjab Police for failing to prepare a contingency route for the PM’s visit, in line with established protocol. This was particularly necessary given existing intel about protesting farmers in the area, a ministry official said.
Union Minister Smriti Irani led the chorus of attacks on the Congress, accusing the party of “a murderous conspiracy to kill the PM”. “The Congress hates him, now they want to harm him,” she declared.
A team from the Home Ministry is now seeking details of police deployment, picket lines, officers stationed on rooftops, barricades, and other security measures taken by the state police force for the Prime Minister’s visit.
The Congress, meanwhile, has hit back by questioning if protocol was actually followed in this case. Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala pointed out that elaborate security arrangements had been made for the Prime Minister’s rally but the route chosen was not part of the original schedule.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi, whom BJP chief JP Nadda accused of deliberately not fielding SOS calls while the Prime Minister was on the flyover, has refuted any such charge. “As a Punjabi, I would die to protect you (the Prime Minister) …but there was no danger to his life. There was no security breach,” he stressed.