We had no plans to stop Narendra Modi's convoy, says protester on Ferozepur 'security lapse' issue

The BJP, meanwhile, said said that concerned over the security lapse, people across India will conduct a ‘Maha Mrityunjaya Jaap‘ for the long life of the prime minister

News18 India January 06, 2022 13:29:22 IST
We had no plans to stop Narendra Modi's convoy, says protester on Ferozepur 'security lapse' issue

Farmers stage a demonstration to block Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cavalcade, in Ferozepur, Punjab. PTI

The protesters at the flyover where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was stuck for nearly 20 minutes on Wednesday due to the blockade said the Punjab police had asked them to vacate the road, but they “did not believe them and thought that the officers were lying” about the prime minister’s route.

“We were at least 10 km away from PM Modi’s convoy. We didn’t know that he was coming by road. The villagers told us later that it was the prime minister’s convoy on the flyover," Surjeet Singh Phool of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) told CNN News18.

He further said that the change in PM’s programme from by air to road is questionable that too few hours before. “There was no plan to stop the prime minister’s convoy. We were told around 12:30-1:00 pm that we have to vacate the road. We couldn’t believe. We thought they are lying to us," Phool added.

“Usually the route for the prime minister is cleared at least two to three hours before the convoy has to pass. The PM does not change the plan so suddenly," the BKU(K) leader said.

The Punjab government, meanwhile, on Thursday constituted a high level committee to “thoroughly probe" the security lapse during PM Modi’s Ferozepur visit.

“The Committee would comprise Justice Mehtab Singh Gill (retired) and Principal Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice Anurag Verma. The Committee shall submit its report within three days," an official spokesperson said.

The state BJP, however, rejected the committee. Party’s state president Ashwini Sharma said that a BJP delegation met the governor on Thursday morning and appraised him about the security lapse.

The members have demanded dismissal of deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who is also the state home minister.

Some Opposition leaders too criticised the government over the incident.

Punjab’s senior Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, a vocal critic of his own party, said that the breach of the security for prime minister is not ‘acceptable’. He further said that the state government’s duty to ensure safe passage to PM Modi for addressing BJP’s political rally in the state because “that’s how a democracy functions".

Former prime minister and JD(S) supreme HD Deve Gowda called the incident ‘unfortunate’. “At no point should we be complacent when it comes to protecting the highest executive office of India. We should learn from the past," he added.

Under pressure from all corners, the Congress is set to hold three press conferences on Thursday to defend chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi. Mallikarjun Kharge will address in Bengaluru at 1:30 pm, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel in Raipur at 2 pm and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur at 3 pm.

Reacting to the developments, CM Charanjit Singh Channi said, “You are trying to defame ‘Punjabiyat’. The PM is defaming Punjab. He said main zinda jaa raha hoon, but the protesters were sitting peacefully. We will not accept politics."

The Bharatiya Janata Party said that concerned over the security lapse, people across India will conduct ‘Maha Mrityunjaya Jaap‘ for long life of PM Modi simultaneously at 12:30 pm. Some party leaders too would be present during the rituals in Delhi — Arun Singh at Preet Vihar temple, Vaijyant Panda at Jhandewalan temple and Dushyant Gautam at Connaught Place’s Hanuman mandir.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will also perform ‘Maha Mrityunjaya Jaap‘ for PM Modi in Bhopal.

Modi, who was travelling by road in Punjab, was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes due to blockade by some protesters, an incident the Union Home Ministry described as a “major lapse" in his security.

In a statement, the home ministry said after the “major security lapse" in the prime minister’s travel in Punjab, his convoy decided to return. The ministry also asked the Punjab government to fix responsibility for the lapse and take strict action, the statement said.

News agency ANI quoted a senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official as saying that despite having intelligence inputs about protesters, Punjab Police did not follow the ‘Blue Book’ and had not prepared a contingency route for prime minister’s visit. Special Protection Group’s (SPG) Blue Book lays down security guidelines for the protection of the PM.

“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.

He added that officials of the Intelligence Bureau were in contact with Punjab Police and have alerted them regarding protesters movement and Punjab Police officers assured them of complete protection to the VIP.

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