PM’s convoy brought to a halt by protesters.

PM convoy stuck on Punjab flyover for 20 minutes due to protest; cancels rally

Home Ministry calls it major security breach; Punjab CM denies any lapse

Agency Report | Ferozepur/New Delhi/Chandigarh | 5 January, 2022 | 11:00 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to return without addressing a rally in Punjab after his convoy got stuck in a road blockade near Hussainiwala. The security lapse occurred when the Prime Minister was travelling by road from Bathinda to National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala. The PM's convoy was stuck for 15-20 minutes on the flyover due to a road blockade by some protestors. The home ministry described the incident as a "major lapse" in his security. After the serious lapse in security, his convoy decided to return without attending an event at a martyrs' memorial. The Centre has asked the Punjab government to fix responsibility for the lapse and take strict action.

In a major security breach, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cancelled his visit to Ferozepur town in Punjab, where he was scheduled to lay the foundation stones of Rs 42,750 crore projects, at the last minute.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced from the venue that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not be able to address the rally “due to some reasons”.

Mandaviya was here for the foundation stone of three medical infrastructures, including the 100 bedded PGI Satellite Centre in Ferozepur to be built at a cost of more than Rs 490 crore.

Earlier, the Prime Minister landed at Bhaisiana Air Force station in Bathinda town from where he was supposed to travel to Ferozepur by road.

As per the Ministry of Home Affairs’ statement on the PM Modi’s Punjab visit, “Today morning PM landed at Bathinda from where he was to go to National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter. Due to rain and poor visibility, PM waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out.

“When the weather didn’t improve, it was decided that he would visit the National Martyrs Memorial via road, which would take more than 2 hours. He proceeded to travel by road after necessary confirmation of security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police.

“Around 30 km away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, when the PM’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protesters. The PM was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of PM.

“The PM’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to Punjab Government. As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as 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 was clearly not deployed.

“After this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda airport.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs took cognisance of the serious security lapse and has sought a detailed report from the state government.

This was Modi’s first visit to the state after the repeal of three contentious farm laws.

Earlier in the day, state Finance Minister Manpreet Badal welcomed Modi at the airport in Bathinda. Chief Minister Charanjit Channi was to address the programmes virtually.

“Welcoming Prime Minister, Shri @narendramodi Ji, on behalf of the Punjab Government for his official visit to Punjab,” Manpreet Badal tweeted.

Just hours ahead of his visit, Modi tweeted, “I look forward to being among my sisters and brothers of Punjab today. At a programme in Ferozepur, the foundation stone of development works worth Rs 42,750 crore would be laid, which will improve the quality of life for the people.”

Modi was to lay the foundation stone of development projects of Rs 42,750 crore comprising two mega road corridors to enhance accessibility to prominent religious centres and three health institutions in this town bordering Pakistan.

One of the road corridors will halve the travel time of 12 hours from the national capital to religious sites in Punjab, comprising Amritsar and Sultanpur Lodhi, and to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu and Kashmir’s Katra.

After paying obeisance to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at the memorial in Hussainiwala, about 260 km from the state capital Chandigarh, the Prime Minister was to lay the stones and address a public meeting.

Modi last visited Hussainiwala in March 2015, where the last rites of the three freedom fighters were held after they were hanged in Lahore on March 23, 1931.

Regretting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to cancel his scheduled visit to Ferozepur midway, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said there was no security lapse that led to the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s visit to the bordering town.

“We were told that the Prime Minister would fly by helicopter from Bathinda to Ferozepur. But all of a sudden, he decided to move by road. If there were any security lapses during PM Modi’s visit, we are ready for probe in the matter,” Channi told the media hours after Modi cancelled his visit enroute Ferozepur, where he was scheduled to lay foundation stones for projects worth Rs 42,750 crore.

“The Prime Minister was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement earlier in the day.

“The Punjab government doesn’t have entire control over security during PM’s visit, as it lies with the SPG. There was an agitation and the Prime Minister was informed about it when he was enroute Ferozepur. At the last minute, they decided to return,” he said.

Channi also said that he had assured Home Minister Amit Shah about the Prime Minister’s security.

He said he was earlier scheduled to travel with the Prime Minister.

“My office staff tested positive for Covid-19. That is why I conveyed that I will not be able to receive the PM,” he said.

“The Prime Minister was not attacked. There was no threat to his life. It was just an agitation. There was a peaceful protest on the way. It is wrong to say that there was a security lapse. There should not be any politics in this. We have respect for our PM,” the Chief Minister said.

“Punjab Police are capable of providing security. All this happened because the PM’s way of travel was changed at the last minute. Yet, the PM’s office was informed beforehand that agitators had assembled on the road. He decided to cancel his rally. His team took the decision of cancelling the rally. He could have used his chopper,” Channi said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a detailed report on the security breach in Punjab.

“Such dereliction of security procedure in the Prime Minister’s visit is totally unacceptable and accountability will be fixed,” said Amit Shah.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted, “Complete failure of law and order in Punjab, CM and HM Punjab, in particular. When you cannot provide smooth passage to the Prime Minister of the country and that too just 10km from the Pakistan border, you have no right to stay in office and should quit!”

Responding to the breach of security, former state Congress President Sunil Jakhar said what happened was unacceptable.

“What has happened today is just not acceptable. It’s against Panjabiyat. A secure passage for the Prime Minister of India to address BJP’s political rally in Ferozepur should have been ensured. That’s how democracy works,” Jakhar tweeted.

Coming indirectly in support of Modi over the breach of his security, former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal, said that there is complete collapse of law and order situation in Punjab and the Chief Minister is ‘incompetent’ to run it.

“There is complete collapse of law and order in Punjab. We have been saying this for long. The CM is incompetent to run the state,” Sukhbir Badal, who is the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said in a tweet. (IANS)