Rajat Sharma

Shocking: Why Punjab Police misled SPG about PM security?

rajat-sirThe Supreme Court has taken up the issue of Prime Minister’s security breach and a top-level team from the Centre has questioned Punjab Police officials on Friday after visiting the spot where the PM’s convoy was blocked by protesters. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night, we showed how the Director General of Punjab Police misled the SPG about the clearance given for the PM’s route.

The DGP spoke to top SPG officials 11 times on phone, during which he initially assured that the route was sanitized for the PM’s convoy to move, but in the end, he told the SPG that the situation could turn violent and the convoy should take a U-turn and return.

First, the decision about taking the land route due to bad weather. Congress leaders including Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi had been saying that the decision to go by land route was taken suddenly. Met department had already forecasted rains on January 5, and because of this, a rehearsal was carried out for the land route from Bathinda to Ferozepur.

The PM’s plane landed at 10.20 am at Bathinda airport, and since the weather was bad, it was decided to take the land route. 48 minutes later, at 11.08 am the PM’s convoy left the airport for Ferozepur by road. During these 48 minutes, SPG officials spoke to Punjab DGP on phone eleven times. At 10.30 am, SPG asked the DGP whether the land route was clear. At 11 am, the DGP gave the green signal.

At that point of time, the DGP did not tell the SPG about any protest on the route. He gave no hint about protesters squatting on the road and blocking traffic. At 12.45 pm, the PM’s convoy reached the flyover, and found protesters blocking it from the other end. Even at that point of time, the SPG was not told about the protesters. The last phone call was at 1.05 pm between DGP Sidharth Chattopadhyay and SPG officials. It was then that the DGP said, the protesters could turn violent and the convoy must return.

From the conversations, it is now clear that the DGP misled the SPG about the Prime Minister’s security. It requires a probe to establish whether this misleading of SPG was deliberate. Or whether the DGP was acting on instructions from his higher-ups. Punjab Police had 48 precious minutes to sanitize the PM’s route. The convoy took 97 minutes to reach the spot from Bhatinda. The question: What was Punjab Police doing for one hour 37 minutes? Why were the protesters not removed from the route? Why was the SPG kept in the dark about protesters blocking the route?

Images, videos and statements of protesters clearly reveal that it was a huge lapse on part of Punjab government. The lapse was not at a single level. It was a multi-level lapse. The PM’s Ferozepur programme was scheduled several days ago. Preparations were afoot at the rally ground and also on the alternative land route. Central agencies involved in the preparations had told the state government about possibility of protesters disrupting the PM’s rally.

The communications sent by the Centre to Punjab government clearly stated that the venue of the rally was close to the India-Pakistan border, hardly 14 to 15 km. These also hinted at the possibility of Pakistan airdropping weapons and explosives by drones. Yet, Punjab Police did not make preparations and allowed hundreds of protesters surrounding the flyover with buses and tractor trolleys, causing serious breach to the PM’s security.

It was because of the gravity of this incident that the Supreme Court on Friday directed the Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court to “forthwith…secure and preserve the records” relating to the PM’s visit. It directed the DGP of Chandigarh union territory and an IG rank from National Investigation Agency to assist the Registrar General “to forthwith secure and seize the records from the state police as well as from Central agencies”. The Registrar General has been asked to keep these records in his custody for the time being.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that this security breach was “one of the rarest of rare issues having serious potential of causing an international embarrassment. ..Whenever the PM’s cavalcade moves on road, it is always the DG of the state who is consulted whether it is safe to travel on road, and only with his sanction does it proceed. Here the DG gave a green signal. He did not say there is a blockade.” The Supreme Court will take up this issue again on Monday.

On one hand, the Supreme Court has taken serious cognizance of this security breach, but on the other hand, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Sidhu described the outrage being expressed by BJP leaders as “swaang” (crude drama). He alleged that this drama was created because there were hardly 500 people present at the Ferozepur rally. He demanded that SPG, IB and other central agencies should also be taken to task for the security lapse.

The FIR filed by Punjab Police 18 hours after the security breach, reveals how the state government is taking up the entire issue lightly. The FIR filed against “150 unknown persons” by Inspector Birbal Singh of Kulgari police station says that they tried to block traffic on the road. Sec 283 IPC was invoked in this FIR, which provides for a paltry Rs 200 fine. This section is normally used against those who stage small protests. No mention was made about the Prime Minister’s convoy in this FIR. The intent of Punjab Police and the state government is quite clear.

Union Minister Giriraj Singh was caustic in his comment. He said, this was clearly a case of conspiracy against the Prime Minister’s life. The conspirators are not only there in Punjab government, but have connections with Delhi, he alleged. The entire nation has seen this conspiracy on TV, the PM’s convoy was blocked from the front, and it was being announced on the mike that the convoy should be gheraoed from the back, he alleged. What would have happened had weapons or drones had been used? , he asked.

The videos that I have seen are clear. The Prime Minister sitting trapped inside his vehicle, surrounded by SPG commandos guarding him with weapons, with more vehicles in front and at the back, and on the other side of the road, hundreds of people watching this, standing, with buses and tractor trolleys stranded. For 20 minutes, the PM remained trapped on the flyover. He was forced to take a U-turn from the wrong side. There was complete anarchy on the spot.

What did Navjot Sidhu say? He instead blamed the Prime Minister for “insulting Punjab and Punjabiyat”. And what did the CM Charanjit Singh Channi say? On Friday, Channi told a rally that BJP is insulting Punjab and Punjabis, and if the Prime Minister comes to harm, “I will be the first to protect him by taking bullets on my chest. I will not allow our PM to be harmed.”

All these have become fodder for Pakistan on TV and social media. Pakistani anchors and bloggers are having a whale of a time making fun of the Prime Minister’s security. It is no surprise, Pakistanis would be gloating over this incident, and people do not take Sidhu’s comments seriously. This time, however, the matter is very, very serious. The blocking of PM’s convoy for 20 minutes on a flyover is a major breach of security. The PM’s convoy cannot be allowed to stop even for five seconds, in the interest of his security. That is why the Supreme Court has added the NIA in the probe, because there are major ramifications involved.

Sidhu and Channi are still saying that there was no threat to the PM’s life. How did both of them know there was no threat to the PM? Did they get any message from across the border? Who told them that the PM was safe from terrorists? Was there no possibility of an attack on the PM trapped inside his vehicle on a flyover? Was there no possibility of a drone attack? Is it not ridiculous to link this incident with the number of people present at the Ferozepur rally? Is it not utterly ridiculous for a Youth Congress leader to ask the PM on twitter, minutes after the incident took place – ‘Modiji, How’s the Josh?’

The facts and videos that are available clearly establish that the claims being made by Sidhu and Channi are ridiculous and childish. Maybe after reading what the Supreme Court has done, these two leaders may change their views and acknowledge that the security of the nation’s Prime Minister is a serious issue and cannot be taken lightly.

Get connected on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Comments are closed.