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Monday, January 17, 2022

Day after PM security breach: Punjab, Centre order separate probes; FIR against protesters

In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs formed a separate committee to probe the security lapse. The committee, headed by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security) in the Cabinet Secretariat, also has IB Joint Director Balbir Singh and SPG IG S Suresh as its members.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev , Deeptiman Tiwary , Krishn Kaushik | Chandigarh, New Delhi |
Updated: January 7, 2022 6:51:12 am
PM Security breach, SC on PM Security breach, Supreme Court Panel, SC constitutes panel to prbe PM security breach, Punjab assembly elections, Punjab CM Channi, Punjab news, India news, Indian expressThe Prime Minister's convoy was held up in Punjab's Ferozepur district on January 5. (PTI)

Under fire for the security breach that left the Prime Minister stranded on a flyover in the state for 15-20 minutes a day earlier, the Congress government of Punjab formed a two-member committee Thursday to inquire into the incident and asked it to submit a report within three days.

In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs formed a separate committee to probe the security lapse. The committee, headed by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security) in the Cabinet Secretariat, also has IB Joint Director Balbir Singh and SPG IG S Suresh as its members.

As the Centre and Punjab announced parallel probes, Anurag Thakur, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, said the government will take “big and tough decisions” after gathering all information regarding the security breach which, he said, was “not just a lapse, but a major lapse”.

The Punjab Police also registered an FIR against unknown protesters who blocked the Prime Minister’s cavalcade on the road to the Hussainiwala border.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, speaking on the Aaj Tak TV channel, said Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had conveyed a message to him through AICC in-charge Harish Chaudhary that “Modi was the Prime Minister of the country. If there was any lapse in his security, then it should be probed and the guilty should be punished. I have set up a commission under a retired judge.”

Police personnel and officials at the flyover where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy was stuck due to a blockade by a group of protestors, in Ferozepur, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (PTI)

The two-member committee comprises retired Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Home Secretary Anurag Verma. They have been asked to submit a report within three days.

Justice Gill started the probe process by sending a questionnaire to the police officers concerned, asking how the PM’s routes were decided and who all were manning them. A source said he would also go through the SPG blue book.

Justice Gill told The Indian Express: “I will first inquire into the matter and will say anything later.”

Sources said AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra called up Channi and had a discussion with him over the issue for about 20 minutes – a day earlier, the Chief Minister had said there was no security lapse, and it was only an agitation by farmers that had held up the Prime Minister.

In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had constituted “a committee to enquire into the serious lapses in the security arrangements during Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visit to Ferozepur, Punjab on 05.01.2022, which led to the exposure of the VVIP to grave security risk”. It said the committee had been asked to submit its report at the earliest.

Sources said the committee will go through the Advance Security Liaison report prepared before the PM’s visit and see if the protocol was violated by those responsible for his security during the visit.

All those responsible for the PM’s security, from the SPG and the state police, will be questioned and all communication between the SPG and local police will be analysed to fix responsibility for the lapse, sources said.

Meanwhile, I&B Minister Thakur said: “Some people have gone to the Supreme Court as well, and they are looking at it. The Home Ministry has also mentioned they will take action, that after gathering information, whatever big and tough decisions have to be taken, they will do that.”

“Whenever there is a breach like this, then whatever steps have to be taken will be taken,” he said.

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