The glaring lapse in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security which left his convoy stranded on a flyover for around 20 minutes near Ferozepur in Punjab on way to National Martyr’s Memorial and the venue for a public meeting on January 5 was a very serious matter leading to hyperbole. It is grave because it happened in spite of the elaborate multi-layered protocols involving central agencies, the Special Protection Group, and state police force as per the ‘Blue Book’.
The four components of the PM’s security are the Special Protection Group or the inner ring; the Central Reserve Police Force or the outer ring; the local police, which is responsible for the logistics and the security along the route; and the Intelligence Bureau, which assesses threat perceptions. A contingency plan is always made in advance with the weather report taken into consideration so that if the PM can’t fly, an alternative route by road is fully sanitized. The primary task of the SPG is to provide proximate security to the PM and it is the responsibility of the state police to ensure overall security.
Ironically instead of fixing responsibility, the Punjab Chief Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, quoting Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in one of his tweets two days after the incident tried to mock, “One who cares more about life than duty should not take any big responsibility.” It is clear that the Punjab Government failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to ensure a safe passage to the PM and the present incident paints the state government and its police force in poor light.
Now a day after the Supreme Court formed a Committee under retired Justice Indu Malhotra to investigate the security lapse, Punjab CM Channi during a virtual meeting of CMs with the PM to take account of Covid situation in the country on January 13, regretted the incident and wished the PM a long life.
However, attempts to create a new narrative over threat to the life of the PM, has failed to have its magical effect by igniting passions and triggering street protests. The safety and security of the PM should transcend political considerations or personalities because the PM’s security is above party politics. But exploiting the cliché of the endangered security to garner psychological sympathy on the eve of elections does not seem to have worked. Most upset are farmers who find this as a design to malign the community and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha has alleged that for no reason, the state of Punjab and the farmers have been blamed for the incident though the protesting farmers never made any effort to go towards the Prime Minister’s convoy.
To paint the lapse in Punjab as a conspiracy to harm the PM by holding ‘Mahamritunjya puja’ or blaming a conspiracy by the elected government in the state to deliberately endanger the PM is in bad taste. This refrain speaks of a terrible trust deficit between the Centre and the State ahead of crucial assembly elections in five states. The rhetoric must stop!