In what was dubbed a “major security lapse” by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was stuck at a Punjab flyover for 15-20 minutes because it was blocked by protesters. Eventually, he had to return to Bathinda airport without visiting the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala where he originally intended to go.
Initially, Modi was to visit Ferozepur via helicopter. However, rain and poor visibility forced the convoy to travel by road for over two hours. Around 30 kms from his destination, the group found a flyover blocked by protesters despite confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police. He eventually had to leave the state facing state elections in the near-future.
“This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister. His schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to the Punjab government,” said the Ministry of Home Affairs in a statement.
It said the state government should have made the necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as kept a contingency plan. Further, the government should also deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, “which were clearly not deployed,” said the statement.
It may be noted that the Kisan Ekta Morcha, the social media handle of the farmer union’s umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) had started a hashtag “Go Back Modi” a day before the event questioning “who will compensate” the families of the over 700 farmers who died during the national farmers’ struggle.
Let’s make it very clear. This is because of huge protest by farmers & people of Punjab that Modi had to cancel his event.
— Kisan Ekta Morcha (@Kisanektamorcha) January 5, 2022
Earlier, Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik said that Modi demonstrated an “arrogant” attitude towards the plight of farmers stating “did the farmers die for me?”
— Kisan Ekta Morcha (@Kisanektamorcha) January 4, 2022
Still, the Ministry asked the administration for a detailed report and instructed the same to address this lapse. According to Rediff, Modi was going to lay the foundation stone for multiple development projects worth ₹ 42,750 crore in Ferozepur. However, following the protest, Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced on-stage that the Prime Minister will not be visiting “due to some reasons”.
Meanwhile, the news has driven BJP workers and right-wing media into a tizzy, some of whom called the incident a possible “national disaster”.
First video of PM @narendramodi‘s Security breach at Firozpur, Punjab. Several protesters seen running just alongside the Prime Minister’s convoy.
— Priti Gandhi – प्रीति गांधी (@MrsGandhi) January 5, 2022
PM security breach – Punjab government failure and Family Hatred towards @narendramodi
— Vikas Bhadauria (@vikasbha) January 5, 2022
Major security breach in PM @narendramodi ’s convoy in Punjab. PM was travelling by road,his convoy was stopped due to protestors blocking the road. PM waited for 20 minutes on the road and then returned. This can’t be done without Punjab Govt’s hand in glove role. pic.twitter.com/QA9EzwOaOv
— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) January 5, 2022
In response, the SKM said in a tweet in Hindi, “Last year on the same day, farmers’ fronts were engaged amidst heavy rains on the borders of Delhi. Farmers also “stuck on the roads” for a year. But the farmers did not give up and returned after winning. Sir, don’t make excuses, accept the truth that people are against your policies!”
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