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Punjab CM expresses regret, denies security lapse after PM cuts short visit

Modi, who landed in Bathinda and had to take the road route to Hussainiwala in Ferozepur because of inclement weather, was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes due to a blockade by some farmers, an incident the Union Home Ministry described as a "major lapse" in his security.

Punjab CM expresses regret, denies security lapse after PM cuts short visit
The CM expressed regret and said that the entire incident will be probed. PTI Photo/Kamal Kishore
Punjab CM expresses regret, denies security lapse after PM cuts short visit
outlookindia.com
2022-01-06T16:04:39+05:30

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Wednesday expressed regret after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to cut short his visit to the state, but asserted that there was no security lapse.

The CM said the entire incident will be probed and denied any security lapse or situation of any attack. Channi shared a minute-to-minute programme of Modi's visit, saying three helipads were set up at Ferozepur as he was to reach from Bathinda by air. There was a sudden change in the PM's travel plan from Bathinda to Ferozepur and everything was handled by central agencies, he told reporters.

"It is wrong to say that there was a security lapse," the CM said, stressing that the Punjab Police had a limited role. "The prime minister was to visit for the inauguration (of development projects) and address a political rally. We regret that he had to return due to the blockade en route," Channi told reporters. "After all, he is the prime minister of the country. We respect him. There is a democratic system and federal system," said Channi.

"We regret that he had to go back and we are pained. We respect our prime minister," the CM said. The CM said after some agitators had come on the road, they were told to take another route or try to fly by chopper. But they decided to return, said Channi.

The Punjab CM said some agitators had gathered on the road previous night but they left after they were assured of a meeting with the PM. But if someone suddenly came during the day, it does not mean this posed any danger, asserted Channi, saying farmers had also been protesting for over a year at Delhi's borders but they did not harm anyone, apparently referring to the stir against the central farm laws.

At the same time, he said, "There were 70,000 chairs which had been put up at the Ferozepur public rally venue of the BJP, but only 700 turned up (for the BJP event), what can I do in this?” Replying to another question, Channi said he did not say that there wasn't enough gathering in the rally and that could be the reason (for his return).

When asked that the Centre has sought a report into the security lapse, Channi replied, "The entire incident will be probed."  "If any security lapse has taken place, then we are ready to order an inquiry and we will probe," he said. Replying to a question on any action against any police official for the alleged lapse, Channi said there is no such thing.

When asked if the Punjab DGP had given clearance for the road route for the PM, Channi said the role of the state police had been made limited and everything was being handled by the SPG, IB and other central agencies. Even seating arrangement for dignitaries at the function in Ferozepur was decided by them, he said.

"If agitators suddenly turn up, what will you say, you will have to say give alternative route or wait for some time before they are cleared. But the prime minister decided to return," said Channi. When a reporter asked who were the officials at the Bathinda airport who were reportedly told by the prime minister that they should thank Channi as his life was saved in the situation, the CM replied, "If he (PM) has said something in anger or with political thought, I don't want to make any comment."

"However, I want to say one thing that I would have spilled my own blood before any harm to him, this is the spirit of Punjabis," said Channi, adding that a Punjabi will prefer to die rather than attack the guest visiting the state. When specifically asked that if the PM is to travel by road or other route, the responsibility of securing that lies with the state agencies, Channi said the main control was of the SPG and the IB.

The Home Ministry was directly involved, he said, adding that the Punjab government did not have much role. He said this issue should not be unnecessarily politicised. "Farmers have been sitting peacefully at Delhi's borders. How can I fire bullets at them and use lathis against them to remove them," he said.

Despite requesting them a day before if they could cancel the programme because of possible rain and the agitation, they decided to continue with it, said the CM. Channi stressed that Modi's convoy was stopped way back from the spot where the agitators were sitting on the road. If anybody holds a protest peacefully then it should not be linked with the PM's security and any threat as it is completely wrong, said the CM.

Asked if he had received any call from BJP president J P Nadda, he said the Home Minister had called him that some agitators had come and the PM has decided to return. No other person rang me up from the Centre, he said. 

With inputs from PTI. 

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