Updated: January 13, 2022 7:19:43 am
ON A day when the Supreme Court flagged the “blame game” and “war of words” between the Centre and Punjab government over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states came out to accuse the Congress and its government in Punjab of a “pre-planned, well-orchestrated conspiracy”.
At least two chief ministers, Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam) and Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura), alleged the involvement of “Khalistanis”, with Sarma even demanding the arrest of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for the “conspiracy to kill” the PM.
Four chief ministers, Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Sarma and Deb, alleged that the flyover where the PM’s convoy was stranded was “just a few kilometres from the Pakistan border”, vulnerable to “drones, missiles and snipers”.
The chief ministers were reacting to a “sting operation” by India Today news channel on the security breach.
Last week, The Indian Express had reported that the possibility of protesters blockading roads to disrupt the PM’s rally was raised in a series of letters written by Punjab ADGP (Law and Order) Naresh Arora, between December 31 and January 4 (a day before the PM’s visit), to district SSPs and other field officers. Some letters, reviewed by The Indian Express, clearly warned police officials that protesters could block roads and urged them to make security arrangements for the PM’s visit to Ferozepur.
The India Today report Wednesday said that apart from Arora’s letters, intelligence officials in the field had also informed senior officials that protesters were likely to disrupt the PM’s visit to Ferozepur.
Punjab DGP Viresh Kumar Bhawra and Punjab Intelligence chief A S Rai were not available for comment. Following the security lapse, Ferozepur SSP Harmandeep Hans was transferred to Ludhiana Friday.
Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Sarma alleged that the Congress high command and its government in Punjab were “directly involved” in an “international conspiracy”, and the protesters who had blocked the road were “Khalistanis”, not farmers.
Divide hardens in poll season
By getting its CMs to launch a concerted attack on the Congress government in Punjab, the BJP is raising the pitch on the PM’s security breach. Just a month to go for polls in a state where it lost face over the farm laws, invoking Khalistan and a plot to kill will deepen fault-lines.
The incident took place “just 10 km from the Pakistan-Punjab border,” he said. “This means it was in the range of drones, missiles and snipers… The Punjab government did not protect the PM, but hatched a conspiracy to kill him,” he said, as he demanded a “fair and neutral investigation”.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was in Delhi, said: “It has become clear that this was a pre-designed conspiracy. The Punjab government did not follow the rules and protocol laid down in the SPG blue book. They did not even follow the elementary protocol of the Prime Minister being received by the Chief Minister and the DGP.”
s“This is not just a violation of security protocol but a conspiracy against the country, for which the chief minister should apologise,” he said.
Saying that the Prime Minister’s convoy was stopped at a “place where it could be exposed to drones or other attacks”, Adityanath said this happened “despite intelligence inputs about possible Khalistani involvement.”
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alleged that the security breach was a “pre-planned”, “sponsored conspiracy”.
“Why were the chief minister, chief secretary and DGP not with the PM? Does this not show that they knew what would happen? Who revealed the PM’s route to the protesters? How did the protesters gather in such a large number within such a short time period, despite police presence? Why did the DGP tell the PM’s security team that the entire route was safe,” he said.
Chouhan alleged that Channi did not respond to calls either. “Even calls made by BJP national president J P Nadda went unanswered. It shows that the conspiracy is linked to the Congress high command,” he alleged.
“The flyover on which the PM’s cavalcade was stuck was just a few kilometres away from the Pakistan border, surrounded by highrises and trees. If some incident had happened, who would be responsible for it,” said Chouhan.
“The Congress, in the process of hating Narendra Modi, has developed a hatred for the country, the PM’s position, the Constitution, Army, security and national interest,” he said.
In Agartala, Deb alleged that the security breach was “pre-planned and part of a well-orchestrated conspiracy to put the PM’s life in danger”.
“Khalistani organisations who foster anti-India sentiments were involved in the security breach and the way Congress leaders have reacted makes it clear that the Congress high command sponsored the whole incident,” he alleged.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami also alleged “negligence” and a “massive conspiracy”. “It could be said that this was not just a mistake but a massive conspiracy. The way they tried to harm the Prime Minister, this was not spontaneous, but a premeditated, sponsored conspiracy. The Congress high command has to be answerable,” he said.
In Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the “sting operation” showed that despite intelligence inputs on possible disruptions, “clear instructions were given to farmer leaders on how to block the routes” instead of making alternative arrangements. “It is extremely shameful on the part of the Punjab government. The manner in which the Prime Minister’s life was put in danger is highly condemnable,” he said.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Delhi, Union Minister and senior party leader Smriti Irani reiterated the BJP’s allegation that the security breach was “deliberate”.
“Why were security measures for the PM deliberately breached with active connivance of the Congress-led government (in Punjab)? Who sought to benefit in the Congress party from the breach? Who in the Punjab government continued to deliberately ignore the threats to the PM’s security,” she said, adding that the Congress high command should respond to these questions.
– With ENS, PTI inputs
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