Punjab forms high-level panel to probe security lapses during PM Modi's visit
The Punjab government on Thursday formed a two-membered high-level committee to probe the alleged security lapses during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the state on Wednesday. According to an official release issued by the Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi's office, the panel would comprise Justice (Retd.) Mehtab Singh Gill and Anurag Verma, the principal secretary of home affairs and justice.
A senior official of the Union ministry of home affairs, cited by the ANI news agency, had claimed earlier that despite having prior intelligence inputs about protesters blocking the road during Prime Minister Modi's visit, the Punjab Police did not follow the ‘Blue Book’ of security protocols.
What happened during PM Modi's visit?
The Prime Minister was scheduled to visit Ferozepur on Wednesday to lay the foundation stone of multiple development projects worth more than ₹42,750 crore. He landed in Bathinda in the morning and was thereafter supposed to fly to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala on a helicopter, but had to wait for about 20 minutes due to rain and poor visibility.
When the weather did not clear out, it was decided that Prime Minister Modi would visit the memorial via road, which would take more than two hours. After confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the director-general of Punjab Police, the Prime Minister's car was on the track.
Around 30 km away from Hussainiwala, the Prime Minister's convoy was met on a flyover with protestors, who had blocked the road. Due to this, Modi was stuck on the flyover for about 15-20 minutes.
Reports of security lapse
“This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister,” read a statement issued by the home ministry. “The Prime Minister's schedule and travel plan were communicated well in advance to the Punjab government. As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready.”
According to the senior home ministry official quoted by ANI, the Special Protection Group's (SPG) ‘Blue Book’ lays down security guidelines for the protection of the Prime Minister.
“As per the Blue Book, the state police have to prepare contingency route for the protectee in case of any adverse situation like the one that happened in Punjab during PM's visit,” said the MHA official, adding that officials of the Intelligence Bureau had been in contact with the Punjab Police and alerted them regarding protesters' movement. The Punjab officers, in turn, had assured them of complete protection to the VIP.
However, since there was definitely a lapse in security, the MHA has demanded from intelligence agencies and is seeking details of deployment, picket, rooftop deployment, barricades, and other security measures taken by Punjab Police during the Prime Minister's visit, the senior official said.