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Centre seeks action-taken report from Punjab govt on breach in PM Modi’s security

PM Modi's convoy on its way to the National Martyrs Memorial in Ferozepur remained stuck on a flyover in Punjab for 20-25 minutes in a major security lapse on Jan 5 last year

The Central government has asked the Punjab government to submit a detailed action-taken report against officers responsible for the breach in security during Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to the state on January 5 last year, according to official sources.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla is reported to have written a letter to Punjab Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua highlighting the delay by the Punjab government in taking action against the erring officers and asked him to submit a detailed report on the issue as soon as possible.

A report of the Supreme Court-appointed inquiry committee headed by Justice Indu Malhotra, looking into the breach in security during PM Modi’s Punjab visit on January 5, 2022, submitted six months ago, indicted then-state Chief Secretary Anirudh Tewari, Police DGP S Chattopadhyaya, and other top officers of the Punjab government for lapses in the security arrangements.

The Justice Malhotra committee report has stated: “The events reveal a major and  unprecedented lapse in the security arrangements  of the Prime Minister. The security of an elected leader in a parliamentary democracy is of paramount importance for the national security of India.”

Soon after the security breach, the MHA had constituted a three-member committee that summoned Director General of Punjab Police, Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, Punjab ADGP, Patiala IGP, and the Ferozepur DIG among over a dozen top Punjab Police officers. They were responsible for the Prime Minister’s security during his visit to Ferozepur on January 5.

The MHA then constituted a three-member committee led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat; Balbir Singh, Joint Director (IB); and S Suresh, IG, Special Protection Group.

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.

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 Home Ministry’s three-member team started its investigation with a visit to the flyover where the Prime Minister’s convoy on its way from Bhatinda to National Martyrs Memorial in Ferozepur was stuck for over 15-20 minutes due to a road blockade by protesters. This was a serious lapse in the security arrangements during the PM’s visit to Punjab which led to the exposure of the VVIP to a grave risk.

The MHA had then also asked the Punjab government to “fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.

The Punjab government had 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. 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.

Prime Minister Modi then proceeded to travel by road after necessary confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police, according to the statement.

Around 30 km away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, when his convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors.

Prime Minister Modi was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. It was flagged as a major lapse in his security.

The Home Ministry had then said PM Modi’s schedule and travel plan were communicated well in advance to the Punjab government.

The Home Ministry said the state government officials were required to follow procedure and make necessary arrangements for logistics, and security as well as keep a contingency plan ready.

Also in view of the contingency plan the Punjab government had to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, which was clearly not deployed, the MHA report had said then, adding “after this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda Airport.”