Updated: January 7, 2022 11:34:14 am
Punjab government officials have claimed that the last-minute disruption by protesters was one factor that stalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy on the Ludhiana-Ferozepur highway.
Facts, however, put a question mark on this.
For, the possibility of protesters blockading roads to disrupt the PM’s rally was raised in a series of letters between December 31 and January 4 — a day before the PM’s visit — from the Punjab Police headquarters to field officers in districts.
Some letters, accessed by The Indian Express, clearly warned police officials that protesters could block roads and urged them to make adequate security arrangements for the PM’s visit to Ferozepur.
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All the eight letters were sent from the office of ADGP (Law and Order) Naresh Arora, to district SSPs and other fields officers.
On January 4, a letter was sent to Commissioners of Police (Amritsar and Jalandhar) and SSPs of Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Jalandhar rural and Amritsar rural.
The letter read: “…2100-2200 workers of various farmer unions have given a call to oppose the rally of Narendra Modi at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Engineering College on Ferozepur-Moga road on 05.01.2022 by showing black flags… It is learnt that today (January 4) 160-170 workers of KMSC (Piddi) will depart from districts Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Jalandhar. They will gather at grain market Arif Ke, Ferozepur, to oppose the rally. 100-125 workers with tractor trollies will depart to rally place from Mamdot…They have also decided that wherever they will be stopped by the police, they will start dharna/road blockade there.”
The letter asked district police heads to “keep a strict vigil and put adequate security arrangements in place” to ensure that “PM’s visit passes peacefully.”
The same day, the office of ADGP (Law and Order) sent another letter to all IGPs, SSPs and CPs to make “security and route arrangements in districts on PM’s rally day in view of farmers’ agitation.”
It added: “You are directed to keep a watch on movement of farmers and they should not be allowed to move to Ferozepur to disrupt the rally. Any dharna may result in road blocks, therefore please make necessary traffic diversion plan in advance.”
The letter also ordered that SSPs “should personally assess plan of farmers and make necessary arrangements.”
On January 3, a letter sent to SSP Ferozepur, in fact, named farm unions such as BKU (Ugrahan), BKU (Sidhupur), BKU (Phool) Krantikari Kisan Union among others, and said that these unions have “given a call to oppose the rally of PM Modi by showing black flags.”
It added, “Protesters may try to enter rally pandal and also hold traffic jam at Harike…Makhu” and other roads towards Ferozepur to “stop BJP workers from reaching the venue…It must be ensured that no untoward incident takes place and PM visit passes peacefully.”
On January 2, a letter addressed to all SSPs and CPs said that at least 1 lakh people were being mobilized by organizers from all districts of Punjab. The letter mentioned that “force should be deployed at important points…There are large number of dharnas going on in most of the districts. Farmers are also likely to hold dharnas on 5th January. These dharnas may result in road blocks.”
The letter also warned of inclement weather and said, “Due to rain prediction on 5th January, 2022, VIPs may also be moving in your area on road.”
On January 2, an order deputed officer Amarjit Singh Bajwa, PPS, AIG Transport Punjab, as “in charge of the VVIP carcade for Hussainiwala during PM’s visit.”
When contacted, Bajwa said, “No, I was not leading the VVIP carcade during PM’s visit…Don’t go by the official order, talk to those who were leading it.”
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