Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Punjab Top Cop Skips Meet With Centre’s Panel


A team from the Union Home Ministry today visited the flyover in Punjab’s Ferozepur to probe security lapses during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign visit on Monday. The PM convoy stopped for 20 minutes as protesting farmers blocked the road.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. The three-member team Home Ministry team, which includes S Suresh, Inspector-General of the SPG, or Special Protection Group, tasked with guarding the Prime Minister – spent 45 minutes at the flyover this evening. 

  2. Punjab DGP Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, and 12 other senior officials, including those deployed for the Prime Minister’s visit Wednesday, were called for questioning today. Mr Chattopadhyaya, however, skipped the high-level meet. The Home Ministry, meanwhile, has also sent a notice to Bathinda’s top cop, asking for a reply in 24 hours.

  3. Earlier today Punjab Chief Secretary Anirudh Tewari wrote to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla with updates on the state’s inquiries. He said a police case had been filed and a two-member committee set up by the state government would submit a report in three days. The Punjab government inquiry will run parallel to that by the Union Home Ministry.

  4. The row has also reached the Supreme Court and may be heard today. The petition by an NGO, Lawyers’ Voice, has called for Mr Tewari and the DGP, Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, to be held responsible and suspended pending departmental action.

  5. A massive row broke out Wednesday when PM Modi, who was on his way to Ferozepur for an election rally, was stopped for 20 minutes on a flyover. His convoy – he was travelling the 100 km from Bathinda to the rally by road after bad weather grounded his helicopter – was blocked by protesting farmers. He was stopped 10 km from the venue.

  6. The farmers who blocked the road said they had no idea the Prime Minister was passing that way. They admit they were asked to move by state police officials (once it was clear PM Modi was travelling by road) but saw it as a trick to get them to abandon protests.

  7. Meanwhile, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha – the umbrella body of farmers’ unions that led protests against the now-scrapped farm laws – has taken exception to reports the PM said he had “somehow saved his life” during the incident. The SKM said the Prime Minister was using the farmers’ movement to “cover up the failure of his rally”.

  8. Questions have been raised over the sequence events that led to the convoy getting stuck on that flyover. This includes the big point – why was he on an unsanitised route? Why did the PM’s security detail agree to a road trip if there was intel about protesting farmers, and did the police clear (did they get enough time?) the proposed route?

  9. The BJP yesterday released what it claims are internal memos of Punjab Police directing its officers to make “necessary security, traffic and route arrangements” for the PM’s visit. These memos, the BJP claims, also warn of last-minute plan changes due to bad weather and that “farmers are likely to hold dharnas (that) may result in roadblocks… please make necessary diversion plans”.

  10. The entire incident has also triggered a bitter spat between the Congress and the BJP, which has accused the former of “a murderous conspiracy to kill the PM”. Chief Minister Charanjit Channi refuted any such charge. “As a Punjabi, I would die to protect you (the Prime Minister) …but there was no danger. There was no security breach,” he stressed.



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