What happened to the Prime Minister’s cavalcade is a serious national issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting Punjab to dedicate various development projects to the nation and address a political rally later. Before that, he was supposed to fly from Bhatinda to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter. Due to bad weather, he had to change the plan and decided to travel via road to the memorial where revolutionary freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were cremated on the banks of the Sutlej River. Around 30 km away from the monument, the Prime Minister’s convoy found a blockade by some protesters when it reached a flyover. This breach should have been a national concern beyond political considerations for three reasons.
In recent times, the State of Punjab has witnessed disturbing trends. Pakistan has been trying to vitiate the atmosphere in the State by reviving the Khalistan movement. There were confessions from the protesting farmers that some Khalistani elements had infiltrated in the movement. Every other incident in Punjab has been given a communal colour. The drug trafficking networks are playing their games in the bordering area. In this backdrop, jeopardising the security of the Prime Minister is nothing short of compromising national security.
As per the protocol, the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary or Director General of Police receive the Prime Minister for the official programmes. None of that happened. When the Prime Minister’s convoy decided to travel by road, the Punjab Police gave the clearance as per the protocol. As revealed by some farmers’ leaders, the information about the changed route was leaked to them by the State police. As per the internal memos of the Punjab Police prepared by the ADGP rank officers, there were apprehensions of some protests. The crucial question is if Punjab Police was aware of the dangers, who thwarted the possible security arrangements? Why did the police leak such sensitive information to the farmers’ union and at whose behest? Can they do that without such instruction from the political masters? As per the rules, when the Prime Minister is travelling outside the National Capital, the respective State police is expected to clear the routes in communication with the SPG. Why did Punjab Police fail to do so?
Is it a coincidence that the Punjab Congress Unit chief, who is calling this entire episode a drama, was protesting against the Chief Minister of his party over the appointment of DGP? Is this an outcome of an internal tussle within the Punjab Congress? Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi first showed complete ignorance about the incident, which is alarming for the State. He earlier claimed to be in quarantine due to coming in contact with a COVID-19 positive person but later interacted with media persons without a mask. Congress Social Media activists were cheering over the cancellation of the event.
Opposition parties, especially Congress, politicising the Prime Minister’s security is a blot on our democracy. We have lost two Prime Ministers to the terrorist plots due to colossal lapses. Then also inquiry committees called out the indiscipline and irresponsible behaviour of the Congress party. Elections can take on political interests but protecting the institution of the Prime Minister is necessary for the national interest. There should be a thorough inquiry into the horrific incident and procedural lapses, if any; accountability should be fixed, and necessary amendments should be made to the protocol to avoid any dereliction in the future.