PM Modi’s convoy held up: Role of Punjab Police in focus over security fiasco

HT spoke to many officers across various agencies who explained the security protocol for the PM and the reasons why they believe that the Punjab Police and the Intelligence Bureau are at fault for Wednesday’s security breach.
Police personnel and officials at the flyover where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy stuck due to a blockade by a group of protestors, in Ferozepur.(PTI Photo)
Police personnel and officials at the flyover where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy stuck due to a blockade by a group of protestors, in Ferozepur.(PTI Photo)
Updated on Jan 06, 2022 07:07 AM IST
Copy Link

Was the protest by farmers and a possible road blockade by them during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in Punjab discussed during the advance security liaison (ASL) meeting?

Why wasn’t an alternative route identified during the meeting, which is always done before deciding on a route for the Prime Minister’s convoy?

HT spoke to many officers across various agencies who explained the security protocol for the PM and the reasons why they believe that the Punjab Police and the Intelligence Bureau are at fault for Wednesday’s security breach.

The PM’s immediate security is by the SPG

The PM is guarded round-the-clock by the Special Protection Group (SPG). At any given time, at least 40-60 officers of the SPG including an SPG commandant — equivalent to a Superintendent of Police (SP) — are always present with the PM. This is called the inner ring. Outside this inner ring, there are other layers of security provided by police and those from the paramilitary forces. For example, if the PM is addressing a rally at a ground, the main stage will have SPG personnel. Even the local police will not be allowed inside the ring.

But local police is in charge of the route

Whenever the Prime Minister moves in any part of the country, the route is secured by the local police (Punjab Police in this case). The PM is accompanied only by SPG. Personnel from the paramilitary forces are put on duty to guard the route. If there are towers or tall building along the route, snipers from the paramilitary forces are posted . The local state police has to ensure that no person — especially those who live or work on the roadside — breaches the security of the route. This is very clear.

“The sanitisation of the road is done 3-4 hours in advance. The PM’s visit was not an impromptu one. The local police had enough time to check for mobilisation in the villages nearby, especially in the backdrop of the recent farmers protest. The local police must sanitise the road and cannot make exceptions for even fire or ambulance vehicles to stop the convoy,” said one officer who asked not to be named.

The first two vehicles of the convoy called Escort Number 1 and 2 are always provided by state police. The personnel inside these vehicles coordinate with the local police and are informed if there is any disturbance.

Everything is discussed at an advance security liaison or ASL meeting

This is one of the most important security preparedness meetings ahead of the PM’s visit anywhere. Even if the PM is attending a rally or a function near his house in New Delhi, the meeting happens. If the PM’s schedule is known in advance, the ASL meeting happens more than a week before the visit. Officers of the rank of deputy inspector general and inspector general from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), SPG, and the local police attend the meeting. “An ASL report is prepared. Wasn’t the threat of protesters spilling on the roads discussed at this? If it was and yet the protesters came on the road, then the Punjab Police is at fault. Also, it would be interesting to see what the IB said in the meeting. Every security detail is planned on the basis of this meeting,” said a second officer who too asked not to be named.

There are usually two routes

A third officer, who has in the past worked on the PM’s security, said that there are always two routes planned for the PM. The first route is called the contingency (C) route and the second is the main route. “The routes are chosen in such a way that if there is a blockade on the main route, the convoy immediately takes a turn towards the C route. In Delhi, CISF and BSF personnel guard the route till the PM passes through it. If there is a threat or a possible, disruption, the escort vehicles immediately take the second route, which is already sanitised in advance. And until the PM passes, no one is allowed on the route,” the officer added.

Usually, one or both carriageways of the road are kept clear for the PM

In Delhi, where the PM mostly travels from his residence to his office or a function, only one carriageway is blocked. CISF and BSF personnel stand on the divider and allow traffic to move in the second carriage. But vehicles cannot stop.

“But if the PM is travelling in Jammu & Kashmir or any other sensitive place such as Chhattisgarh, then both carriageways are blocked. CCTV cameras are places and then the security drill is the same. The local police have to sanitise the route, keep miscreants off the roads. They act on their own and also collect inputs from the Intelligence Bureau. Depending on the IB’s inputs a chopper is also kept on stand-by,” a fourth officer, who has worked with in the PM’s security, said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prawesh Lama covers crime, policing, and issues of security in Delhi. Raised in Darjeeling, educated in Mumbai, he also looks at special features on social welfare in the National Capital.

Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, May 29, 2022