Two days after President Pranab Mukherjee dropped out of the World Cultural Festival, to be organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation from Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to be on the verge of skipping the controversial event too.
According to an NDTV report, an assessment by Modi’s Special Protection Group (SPG) has concluded that the venue of the festival is not secure enough for him to visit.
The Prime Minister was scheduled to inaugurate the event on Friday.
Environmentalists have raised concerns that the event, to be held on the flood plains of the Yamuna with the expected participation of 35 lakh people, could irreparably damage the area’s fragile ecosystem. The National Green Tribunal was expected to take a decision in this regard on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister’s SPG team, however, has other concerns on its mind. It feels that the venue is too large and open, making it unsuitable for controlled access. Taking recent terror-related events such as the Pathankot airbase attack into account, an extra-large security cover would have to be extended to Modi. Moreover, officials said that unlike other events of this magnitude, security forces won’t have enough time to sanitise the World Cultural Festival venue ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit.
Though the President’s decision to back out of the event has made security officials heave a sigh of relief, it remains to be seen whether Modi will follow suit.
The SPG makes an assessment of every venue likely to be visited by the Prime Minister, and later provides security cover in collaboration with the local police and other agencies.