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SC may hear on Jan. 7 plea alleging Punjab police ‘connivance’ in PM’s security lapse

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade stranded on a flyover 30 km away from Hussainiwala due to road jams by protesting farmers, in Punjab on January 5, 2022. Photo: Special Arrangement

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade stranded on a flyover 30 km away from Hussainiwala due to road jams by protesting farmers, in Punjab on January 5, 2022. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated it may urgently hear on January 7 a petition alleging that the security breach which left Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s motorcade stranded on a flyover in Punjab for 15 to 20 minutes was done with the “connivance” of the State Police and posed the  “single biggest lapse in security of any Indian Prime Minister in recent years”.

“While the Chief Secretary, State of Punjab and Director General of Police gave assurances to the Special Protection Group [which protects the PM] that the route is clear, it was found that the same was not true resulting in a precarious situation. The lapse in the security of the Prime Minister was occasioned clearly in connivance with the Punjab police. It was only the Punjab government that knew the precise route of the Prime Minister, which is never shared due to high security reasons,” the petition filed by an NGO, Lawyer’s Voice, said.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana asked senior advocate Maninder Singh, who mentioned the NGO’s case for urgent hearing, to serve a copy of the petition to the Punjab government.

The petition sought disciplinary action against Punjab Chief Secretary Anirudh Tewari and Director General of Police Sidharth Chattopadhyaya, both of whom have been made parties in the case.

“As per protocol, the car for the Chief Secretary and DGP or their nominees of the visiting State is earmarked and supposed to join the motorcade. However, as per the reports, neither chief secretary /representative nor DG/representative joined the motorcade during the movement of the Prime Minister,” the plea said.

Mr. Singh said a “thorough, proficient” probe into the security breach was the need of the hour.

“The situation wherein a high constitutional functionary is stranded on a flyover is an extremely high security threat considering the vulnerability and the degree of planning and protection required for the office of the Prime Minister. It is in fact reported that the local administration took part in the blockage and the security lapse. It is clear from the events that private persons were given access to the Prime Minister’s route, and other persons were instigated to join the blockade, which represents a serious and unpardonable breach of national security by the State apparatus and the political establishment of the State,” the petition contended.

The incident happened when the Prime Minister was travelling by road to an event at Ferozepur on January 5. It is reported that protesting farmers blocked the road en route the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala. The Home Ministry has termed the incident “a major lapse in security measures”.

Mr. Singh said the court should order the State government to provide the District Judge of Bathinda district, where the incident happened, with the entire records of security arrangements made for the Prime Minister’s convoy.

The senior advocate said the judiciary should oversee the probe considering the prevailing “atmosphere”.

“The security lapse, as per reliable reports in the print and the electronic media, and as per the Press Information Bureau report of Central government, was clearly intentional and raises a serious question as to national security and the role played by the present political dispensation in the State of Punjab,” the petition submitted.

It explained that the movement of the motorcade from various points in the State was discussed in advance along with State officials and personnel. There was a specific emphasis that the route for the Prime Minister was secured from all angles. It was generally the practice that route survey/profiling, identification of choke points and vulnerable areas prone to sabotage were to be secured with strong police deployment.

“Considering the prevalent situation, which clearly has a national security implication, the highest standard of security arrangements was imperative,” the petition said.


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 9:04:45 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lapse-during-pms-punjab-visit-sc-may-take-up-plea-for-probe-tomorrow/article38143054.ece