The Supreme Court will on Friday hear the matter of alleged security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab, Live Law reported.
A massive controversy erupted on Wednesday after Modi had to abort his visit to Punjab’s Ferozepur after his convoy was stuck on a flyover for over 15 minutes as protestors had blocked the road to Hussainiwala village in the district.
The Centre termed it a “major security lapse”. However, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi dismissed the claim and said there was no threat at all to the prime minister’s security. He, however, expressed regret for what had happened.
Advocate Mahinder Singh raised the matter before Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Thursday.
“It has to be ensured that this is not to be repeated,” he said. “Professional and effective investigation is needed into bandobast [security arrangements]. Given the atmosphere today, it would be appropriate under your [Ramana’s] monitoring for the district judge of Bhatinda to take into custody entire records.”
Ramana asked the advocate to serve a copy of the petition to the Punjab government.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has also sought a detailed report from the state government and asked authorities to take strict action against those responsible.
President, vice president raise concerns
Later in the day, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu spoke to Modi about the developments.
“He expressed his deep concern at the security breach and hoped that stringent steps will be taken to scrupulously adhere to established security protocol and ensure such a situation doesn’t recur in future,” a tweet from the vice president’s office said.
President Ram Nath Kovind also met the prime minister and raised concerns on the “security breach”.
Punjab sets up panel
Meanwhile, the Punjab government on Thursday formed a two-member high-level committee to investigate the lapse claims.
“In order to carry out a thorough probe into the lapses that occurred during the prime minister’s visit to Ferozepur yesterday [Wednesday], the Punjab government has constituted a high-level committee,” a spokesperson said.
The panel comprises retired Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Principal Secretary of Home Affairs and Justice Anurag Verma. They have been asked to submit a report in three days.
What happened on Wednesday?
Modi landed in Bathinda on Wednesday morning and was supposed to fly to the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala. Later, he was scheduled to go to a rally in a helicopter.
The Centre said the trip was delayed by bad weather. Since the visibility did not improve, he finally travelled via road. The convoy was stuck around 30 kilometres from the memorial as protesting farmers blocked the road.
Central agencies like the Intelligence Bureau should have anticipated protests as the route to Hussainiwala passes through Kotkapura, Faridkot and Ferozepur – the epicenter of the agitation against the farm laws, The Quint reported.
At a press conference, the Punjab chief minister said the change of plan to travel by road was not conveyed to the state government. “We were informed by the Prime Minister’s Office that he would be travelling by helicopter,” Channi said. “It was at the spot that a decision to travel by road was taken by their [central] agencies and officers.”
However, the Centre claimed that the state police had given clearance for Modi to travel by road.
Channi said that officers had persuaded some protesting farmers the previous night to end their agitation but others had gathered in Ferozepur.
“Farmers have their demands and today, if some people were peacefully protesting here, then it should not be seen as a threat to Prime Minister’s security,” he said, according to The Hindu. “I appeal to all, especially the BJP, to not indulge in politics on the issue. There was no such thing, which had put him security under threat in Punjab.”