Breach in PM Modi’s security: MHA’s 3-member panel summons over a dozen top Punjab Police officers

New Delhi: A three-member committee, constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to probe security lapse in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security during his visit to Punjab, on Friday (January 7), summoned Punjab Director General of Police Siddharth Chattopadhyaya and nearly a dozen top state police officials in its day-one visit to the state, said sources.

In its day one enquiry into the serious lapses in the security arrangements during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab on Wednesday,  the MHA team started detailed questioning with these police officers after visiting the spot where PM Modi’s convoy was stuck for nearly 20 minutes and the place where he was going to attend an event.

The three-member committee led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat and comprising of Balbir Singh, Joint Director, IB and S. Suresh, IG, SPG enquired about many unanswered questions with these Punjab Police officers. Among the officers were Ferozepur’s Director General of Police and Senior Superintendent of Police, who had key responsibility for PM Modi’s route clearance.

Punjab’s Additional Director General and Patiala Inspector General were also among other over a dozen top officers of Punjab Police whom the MHA committee summoned to fix the responsibility of those guilty as it was the key responsibility of the State police to assist Special Protection Group in managing a hurdle free route for PM Modi’s convoy. As per sources, all the Punjab Police officers were asked about their roles and responsibilities and fix the faults that resulted in PM’s security breach.

The Centre is considering action under the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act against Punjab Police officers following the breach in the security of Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Punjab on Wednesday. Section 14 of the SPG Act makes the state government responsible for providing all assistance to the SPG during the PM’s movement.

The provision, titled ‘Assistance to Group’, states: “It shall be the duty of every Ministry and Department of the Central Government or the State Government or the Union Territory Administration, every Indian Mission, every local or other authority or every civil or military authority to act in aid of the Director or any member of the Group whenever called upon to do so in furtherance of the duties and responsibilities assigned to such Director or member.”

The MHA team, which learnt to have reached Ferozepur late on Thursday night, started its probe from its visit at the flyover where Prime Minister’s convoy was stuck for over 15-20 minutes due to a road blockade by protesters during his visit.

The MHA team reached the flyover around 10 am and enquired about the lapses in PM’s security with some senior Punjab Police officers visiting there with them, said sources. The team walked almost one km at the flyover, checked things in a detailed way. They also showed Punjab Police officers some specific pictures and videos available on social media regarding PM’s cavalcade stuck on the flyover and asked questions related to it. However, the videos and pictures being enquired by the MHA team are not known as it is part of the probe.

The MHA team spent nearly one hour at the flyover and then left for Border Security Force’s office in Ferozepur, where there was some communication among senior BSF officers and the team members over the issue. The team also visited National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala in Ferozepur, where the Prime Minister was slated to visit, but the programme was cancelled as his convoy was stuck on the flyover around 300 km far from there. The committee will also meet concerned authorities in the Punjab government responsible for arranging security management for the Prime Minister in coordination with the SPG.

With protesters blocking the road, the PM’s cavalcade was stranded on a flyover 30 km from the National Martyrs Memorial in Punjab’s Hussainiwala on Wednesday, where the prime minister would attend an event organised for the inauguration of several projects of crores of rupees.

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday constituted the three-member committee to enquire into the serious lapses in the security arrangements during PM’s visit to Punjab’s Ferozepur on Wednesday, which led to the exposure of the VVIP to grave security risk.
Home Ministry Spokesperson in a Tweet on Thursday had informed about the formation of the three-member committee, which is advised to submit the report at the earliest.

The move comes after the Home Ministry on Wednesday also sought a detailed report from the Punjab government over the security lapse and asked it “to fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”. The Home Ministry, in a statement, had then informed that it asked the state government to “fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.

The action was taken after the Prime Minister’s convoy during its visit to National Martyrs Memorial in Punjab via road reached a flyover where some protestors blocked the road.

The Prime Minister was stuck on the flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister.
The Punjab government has also constituted a high-level committee to probe the incident. Prime Minister Modi landed at Bathinda on January 5 morning from where he was to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter. Due to rain and poor visibility, the Prime Minister waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out, said a Home Ministry statement issued then.
“When the weather did not improve, it was decided that he would visit the National Martyrs Memorial via road, which would take more than two hours,” the statement said.

PM then proceeded to travel by road after confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police, mentions the statement. “Around 30 km away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, when the Prime Minister’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors. “The Prime Minister was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister,” reads the statement.

The Home Ministry then said that the Prime Minister’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to the Punjab government. As per procedure, the Home Ministry said, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security and keep a contingency plan ready.

“Also, in view of the contingency plan, the Punjab Government has to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, which were clearly not deployed. After this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda Airport.” (ANI)

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