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PM Modi’s Punjab visit sets off ‘security lapse’ debate, centre seeks report from state

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
PM Modi’s Punjab visit sets off ‘security lapse’ debate, centre seeks report from state

Bathinda: Amid strong protest staged by farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his visit to Ferozepur – where he was scheduled to lay the foundation stones for several projects and address a rally later. The angered farmers, opposing Modi’s visit to the city, blocked the road due to which Modi, who had landed at Bathinda’s Bhaisiana Airforce station, was forced to turn back and would soon leave for Delhi, sources said. This was his first visit to the state in two years and for the first time since the repeal of farm laws.

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PM Modi, upon his return to Bathinda airport, told officials, “Apne CM ko thanks kehna, ki mein Bathinda airport tak zinda laut paaya.” (Thank your CM that I returned to the Bathinda Airport alive).

 

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Around 30-kms away from National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, when the PM’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors. The PM was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of PM,” the statement read.

Hours before the rally was scheduled, three approach roads leading to the venue in Ferozepur were blocked by members of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC). However, the protest ended after farmers were assured of a discussion with the PM on January 15 about their demands.

Meanwhile, Punjab state Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had tweeted a photo of himself welcoming Modi earlier in the day. 

“Welcoming Prime Minister, Shri @narendramodi Ji, on behalf of the Punjab Government for his official visit to Punjab,” Badal’s tweet said.

Hours before his Punjab visit, the prime minister said in a tweet on Wednesday that he was looking forward to “being among my sisters and brothers of Punjab today”.

“At a programme in Ferozepur, foundation stones for development works worth Rs 42,750 crore will be laid, which will improve the quality of life for the people,” Modi said in a tweet.

The PM was scheduled to lay foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 42,000 crore, including two mega road corridors to enhance accessibility to prominent religious centres and three health institutions in this town bordering Pakistan.

Meanwhile, BJP accused the Punjab of Police of stopping buses taking party workers to the rally that the Prime Minister will address later.

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Sources said Union Home Minister Amit Shah has taken it with the Punjab DGP.

Punjab assembly elections are just a few months away.

Just hours ahead of his visit, Modi tweeted, “I look forward to being among my sisters and brothers of Punjab today. At a programme in Ferozepur, the foundation stone of development works worth Rs 42,750 crore would be laid, which will improve the quality of life for the people.”

The Prime Minister’s visit is being opposed by some farmer unions. Around 10,000 security personnel have been deployed in Ferozepur district.

Key highlights of PM Modi visit to poll bound Punjab:

5:45 pm: Congress hates PM Modi, they tried to harm him, alleges BJP leader Smriti Irani

“Never before in the history of our country, a state govt knowingly constructed a scenario where the PM will be brought to harm. We know Congress hates Modi, but today they tried to harm the PM of India,” says Union Minister & BJP leader Smriti Irani.

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5:17 pm: What happened today was unacceptable: Sunil Jakhar

“What has happened today is just not acceptable. It’s against Panjabiyat. A secure passage for the Prime Minister of India to address BJP’s political rally in Ferozpur should have been ensured. That’s how democracy works,” tweets Punjab Congress leader Sunil Jakhar.

4:54 pm: Complete failure of law and order, Punjab CM should should resign, says ex-CM Capt. Amarinder Singh over PM’s alleged security lapse.

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh tweets, “Complete failure of law and order in Punjab, CM and HM Punjab, in particular. When you cannot provide smooth passage to the Prime Minister of the country and that too just 10km from the Pakistan border, you have no right to stay in office and should quit!”

3:59 pm: Serious ‘security breach’, ‘matter of shame’: Assam CM Himanta

“It’s a matter of shame that PM Modi’s cavalcade was stopped by protesters on his way to launch development schemes for welfare of Punjab. This is a serious security lapse and the fact that the Punjab CM didn’t address the issue makes matters even worse,” says Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

He further added, “While PM is going all out to ensure holistic development of Punjab, today’s incident shows how Congress is least interested in development and only wants to play politics. Such a security breach in the crucial border state must be enquired at the highest levels.” 

3:44 pm: After PM Modi skips Punjab rally over ‘security lapse’, Centre seeks report from state

Alleging security breach during Modi’s Punjab visit t the poll bound state on Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the state government asking how the PM’s cavalcade was stranded on a flyover for over 15 minutes due to a protest, when his programme had been duly communicated to the state police.

“The PM’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to Punjab Government. As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready. Also in view of the contingency plan Punjab Government has to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, which were clearly not deployed,” the MHA said in a statement. 

3:37 pm: JP Nadda accuses Congress government in Punjab of using every trick to dent PM’s programmes

Hitting out at the state government after Modi’s rally was called off and another programme disrupted as protesters blocked his route breaching the security protocol, BJP president J P Nadda said what is extremely worrisome is that the incident was also a big security lapse.

He also accused the Congress government in Punjab of trying “all possible tricks to scuttle” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programmes, including a rally, in the state.

“Protestors were given access to the Prime Minister’s route while the Punjab CS (chief secretary) and DGP gave assurances to SPG that the route is clear. To make matters worse, CM Channi refused to get on the phone to either address the matter or solve it. The tactics used by the Congress government in Punjab would pain anyone who believes in democratic principles,” he said in a tweet.

Nadda alleged that the state police was instructed to prevent people from attending Modi’s rally and a large number of buses were stranded because of the high-handedness of the police in connivance with the protesters.

In doing so, they did not bother that the PM was to pay tributes to Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters, and lay the foundation stone for key development works, Nadda further added.

3:28 pm: JP Nadda postpones visit to Kolkata

In view of the evolving Covid situation and rising number of new cases in Kolkata, BJP national president JP Nadda’s scheduled visit to West Bengal on January 9-10th stands postponed, as per BJP’s state unit.

3:24 pm: PM was stuck on flyover for 15-20 minutes amid farmers’ protest: MHA

2:58 pm: There was no security lapse, says Punjab CM

Reacting to the incident in a TV interview on a Punjabi channel, Punjab CM Charanjit Channi says, “No security lapse. PM’s road plans were made at the last minute. He was supposed to go by helicopter. I was up late at night overseeing security arrangements for his rally. 70,000 chairs were put up for rally but only 700 people turned up.”

2:42 pm: PM Modi skips Punjab rally over security lapses

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has skipped the rally in Punjab’s Ferozepur over security lapses, a statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs said. “Around 30-kms away from National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, when the PM’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors. The PM was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of PM,” the statement read.

“The PM’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to Punjab Government. As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready. Also in view of the contingency plan Punjab Government has to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, which were clearly not deployed,” the statement further read.

“After this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda airport,” it added.

2:31 pm: SP leader Firoz Pappu found murdered with slit throat, party suspends programmes on Wednesday

Samajwadi Party leader Firoz Pappu was allegedly killed by unidentified assailants near his house here, police said on Wednesday. The incident took place when Pappu (35), former chairman of Tulsipur nagar panchayat, was returning home on Tuesday night when the assailants slit his throat, they said.

Considering the gravity of the situation, a large number of police personnel have been deployed in the area and senior officials, including commissioner and DIG, rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. According to police, Pappu was returning home after campaigning for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections when the incident took place. The family rushed him to the community health centre, Tulsipur where the doctors declared him brought dead.

As soon as the news spread, a large number of his supporters and Samajwadi Party leaders, including former minister S P Yadav, reached the hospital. Yadav announced the suspension of all programmes of the Samajwadi Party on Wednesday and demanded immediate arrest of the criminals. (PTI)

2:20 pm: Congress to postpone major rallies in Uttar Pradesh

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal told news agency ANI that it has decided to postpone major rallies in Uttar Pradesh and other poll-bound states. “We have asked state units to assess the COVID-19 situation in their states and take a decision on holding rallies,” he said.

2:10 pm: Amarinder Singh addresses rally

1:55 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi turns back, cancels visit after farmers block roads

1:34 pm: UP Congress Committee asks EC to cancel big rallies, stop use of govt machinery in campaigning.

1:01 pm: Former CM Capt Amarinder Singh, BJP MP Hans Raj Hans, BJP Punjab Incharge Gajender Shekhawat, BJP state president Ashwani Sharma, Fatehjung Singh Bajwa on the stage at Ferozepur rally.

12:49 pm: Rain plays ruins PM’s Punjab rally, thin crowd gathers at campaign venue

With the rain playing spoilsport, thin crowd was seen at PM Modi’s rally in Ferozepur, which is set to begin at 1 pm. Barely 500 people have reached the open air venue stretching across 20 acres, so far.

11:14 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached Bhisiana Airforce station in Bathinda; welcomed by Governor and BJP central and state leadership. He’ll head to Ferozepur from here.

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal in his media interaction stated that the party has decided to postpone major rallies in Uttar Pradesh and other poll-bound states amid Covid surge. He added that a decision will be taken after reviewing the Covid situation in the states. Furthermore, the grand old party reportedly postponed its ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ marathon in Uttar Pradesh in light of increasing Covid cases.

The UP Congress Committee has also written to Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra to cancel big rallies in light of the anticipated third wave of Covid-19 and urge political parties to carry out smaller rallies with social distancing. It also claimed that PM Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath were using government resources to inaugurate development projects and hold rallies in the state, and asked EC to stop such campaigning.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party reportedly suspended its programmes on Wednesday after its leader Firoz Pappu was allegedly killed by unidentified assailants near his house in Balrampur, UP. According to police, Pappu was returning home after campaigning on Tuesday night when assailants slit his throat. As soon as the news spread, a large number of his supporters and Samajwadi Party leaders, including former minister S P Yadav, reached the hospital. Yadav announced the suspension of all programmes of the Samajwadi Party on Wednesday and demanded immediate arrest of the criminals.

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