Exercise restraint as Modi’s security breach is probed

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Gurbrinder Aulakh

Gurbrinder Aulakh

Chandigarh, January 9, 2022

 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his convoy were stranded on a flyover for about 20 minutes near Hussainiwala in Ferozepur District on 5 January 2022 (ANI Photo)
 
 By and large, in the past, I have been a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial policies and decisions such as demonetisation, subjugation of the constitutional authorities by his government, his politics of divisiveness, and of course the enactment of the Farm Laws.

However, I feel that the issue of lapse in his security, during his recent visit to Punjab, is a matter of grave concern as India has previously lost two Prime Ministers and many other state dignitaries to such lapses.

In India, the planning of the Prime Minister’s security during any visit involves both central agencies and the state police forces. The Special Protection Group Act 1988, governing the security of the Prime Minister, was enacted after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and it was last amended in 2019.

The Blue Book of Security

The various reports on the recent issue of lapse in security, published by the different media, suggest that broad guidelines on this elaborative security exercise are laid down in a manual named ‘ Blue Book’ of the Special Protection Group ( SPG).

Three days before any planned visit, the SPG holds a mandatory Advance Security Liaison ( ASL) with everyone involved in securing the event, including the SPG officials, Intelligence Bureau (IB), State police officials, and the District Magistrate concerned. Every minute detail of PM’s travel by air, road or rail and the security of the venue is discussed.

The fire safety and weather reports are taken into consideration and contingency and backup plans are meticulously prepared in advance. Narrow patches of the route are mapped and the route is ‘sanitised’ by cutting down bushes and security placed on the road even if the Prime Minister is scheduled to travel in an aircraft.

Serious lapse and investigation

This is why it is critical to narrow down as to what went wrong that day which left the Prime Minister’s cavalcade stranded on a flyover for over 15-20 minutes. Prima-facie- it is a serious lapse that requires detailed investigation.

While the Centre and the State governments had set up their enquiry committees, the Supreme court has taken cognisance of the matter in a petition filed before it.

The Supreme Court has directed the Registrar General of the Punjab & Haryana High Court to secure all the relevant records for its perusal.

Till then, everyone should restrain from spreading hatred on social media and citing the repeat of the 1984 pogrom. This has flared up emotions and various political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, appear to be politicising the issue to suit their vested interests in the upcoming elections, in different states across the country.

Rather than politicising the matter, all concerned should provide assistance so that such a lapse is not ever repeated.

Perhaps it is the Prime Minister who should issue an appeal of keeping peace and restraint because earlier it was his message to the Chief Minister of Punjab which added fire to the fuel when he said, “Say thanks to your Chief Minister that I was able to return to Bathinda airport alive.”

The Prime Minister should be thanked for his tweet on January 9, 2022: “Today, on the auspicious occasion of the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, I am honoured to share that starting this year, 26th December shall be marked as ‘Veer Baal Diwas.’ This is a fitting tribute to the courage of the Sahibzades and their quest for justice.”

Gurbrinder Aulakh is a lawyer. The views expressed above are his own.

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