Chandigarh: The protesting farmers at the flyover where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was stuck for nearly 15-20 minutes on Wednesday due to the blockade revealed that 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 PM’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 media.
He further said that the change in PM’s route 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.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government, on Thursday constituted a high level probing committee to “thoroughly investigate” into the security lapse during PM Modi’s Ferozepur visit.
“The Committee would comprise Justice (Retd.) Mehtab Singh Gill 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 breach. 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”.
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.
— Sunil Jakhar (@sunilkjakhar) January 5, 2022
Former PM 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.
It is very unfortunate that there is a controversy over the security of the Prime Minister. At no point should we be complacent when it comes to protecting the highest executive office of India. We should learn from the past.
— H D Devegowda (@H_D_Devegowda) January 6, 2022
Furthermore, Congress that is under fire for the alleged security lapse 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 CM Bhupesh Baghel in Raipur at 2 pm and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur at 3 pm.
The BJP said that concerned over the security lapse, people across India will conduct ‘Mahamrityunjaya 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.
For the unversed, PM 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 PM’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.