The 15th SAARC summit might have ended with heady talk of regional cooperation but a security lapse involving National Security Advisor MK Narayanan has left a sour footnote to the meeting of the regional heads.
The High Commission of India on Wednesday confirmed that there was “serious security lapse” involving the security cover provided to Narayanan during the summit. “This High Commission wishes to state that there was a security lapse in that some of the arrangements discussed and agreed to in advance did not get implemented on the ground,” the two-paragraph release said. Neither the release nor High Commission officials, however, revealed details of the lapse.
It was learnt that lapse occurred at the venue of the summit, the heavily guarded Bandaranaike Memorial International Hall (BMICH) the day after NSA arrived here to attend the top-level conference. It appears that the car designated for Narayanan did not reach the venue on time after the sessions for the day had ended.
After waiting for a while the NSA hopped on to another car and headed for his hotel, a five-star property owned by an Indian hotel chain. However, senior security officials involved in providing cover were not aware that he had left the venue.
The details are hazy as even Sri Lankan authorities are now playing down the incident. It was learnt that Narayanan instead of being taken to his hotel was taken to another hotel where some of the participating delegates were staying. Unconfirmed reports said that thereafter the NSA attempted to walk to his hotel but was stopped by the Sri Lankan military.
Indian High Commissioner Alok Prasad said: “I do not wish to say anything further. Everything is contained in the press release.” Deputy Inspector General SM Wickramasinghe, in-charge of the Presidential Security Division, according to the Island newspaper, had to apologise to the NSA.