The Union home ministry on Friday issued a show cause notice to Bathinda Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Maluja in connection with the alleged security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab, reported The Tribune. The ministry has asked Maluja to reply within a day.

A massive controversy erupted on Wednesday after Modi had to abort his visit to Punjab’s Ferozepur as 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.

In the letter, which was seen by The Tribune, Deputy Secretary to the Union government Archana Varma said that there was a security lapse during the prime minister’s visit and asked Maluja as to why disciplinary action should not be initiated against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal), Rules, 1969.

“Your reply should be received in this ministry on or before January 8 by 5 pm, failing which it would be presumed that you have nothing to say and disciplinary action as deemed fit would be initiated against you,” the letter said.

It cited a report as saying that there was a need to have a strong police deployment for road journey but claimed “adequate security deployment for contingency movement by road was not made” for the prime minister’s cavalcade.

It said that the state government and civil authorities are legally obligated to provide assistance to the Special Protection Group under the Special Protection Group 1988 Act.

“... But available information so far indicates that police at the protest site was found to be inactive, senior police officers present at the site were also found to be ineffective in making efforts to facilitate movement of carcade of the VVIP,” the letter said, according to The Tribune. “Throughout the route only skeletal police deployment was observed.”

Also read:

Modi ‘security lapse’: SC directs High Court to preserve PM’s travel records

‘Where was the threat?’ asks Punjab CM

Channi on Friday again refuted the allegations of security lapse and asserted that there was no threat to the prime minister’s life, reported NDTV.

“Some people were agitating on the road,” he told NDTV in a interview. “They didn’t know the prime minister was coming through that route. The prime minister’s cavalcade knew about the agitation from a km away. So they took an U-turn. Where was the threat here?”

He added: “No one shouted slogans in front of the prime minister. So where is the threat to life here? In a democratic system, if someone stages a sit-in, there’s a system to vacate the road. There was no plan to go through that route.”

The chief minister said that it was not the first time the prime minister had to change his route. He said that Modi had returned from Uttar Pradesh several times and changed his route in others states and asked what was the problem if he had to take a U-turn in Punjab.

“These allegations are completely baseless. In an attempt to deteriorate the situation in Punjab, to impose President’s Rule in Punjab, the situation is being portrayed incorrectly,” the chief minister alleged.

He also claimed that the rally Modi was going to had a seating capacity of 70,000 but only 700 people had shown up, adding this was the reason he turned back.

“Such petty mindedness you see that they cooked up a new ‘threat to PM’s life’ story so that televisions don’t get to show the empty seats,” Channi said.

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 km 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. “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.”