Modi's Punjab visit impeded by 'major lapse in security'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday canceled his visit to Ferozepur, Punjab over a "major lapse in security," the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement. Modi was traveling to visit the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, however, the road had been blocked by protesters, it said. The PM's convoy was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes, it added.
Why does this story matter?
Wednesday's visit was Modi's first visit to the poll-bound state in almost two years. He reportedly had to cancel his scheduled rally because of a road blockade by farmers who were opposing the PM's visit. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now targeting the ruling Indian National Congress party in Punjab. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said there was "no security lapse."
Why was Modi traveling to Ferozepur?
On Wednesday, Modi landed in Punjab's Bathinda and then reached Ferozepur, where he was supposed to lay the foundation stone for multiple developmental projects. He was originally supposed to travel via helicopter. However, he took the road route as rains and poor visibility hurdled air travel. Around 30 km away from the martyrs' memorial, his convoy was blocked by protesters in Hussainiwala.
Here's an excerpt from the MHA statement:
"In Hussainiwala, when the PM's convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors. The PM was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of PM."
Modi government seeks response from Punjab
Thereafter, Modi's convoy headed back to the Bathinda airport, the MHA said. His schedule and travel plan were communicated to the Punjab government in advance, it said. Modi's BJP and Punjab's ruling Congress party are rivals. The MHA said it has sought a detailed report from the state government in light of the "serious security lapse" and urged action.
Here are some visuals from the spot
Security breach in PM Narendra Modi's convoy near Punjab's Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district. The PM's convoy was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. pic.twitter.com/xU8Jx3h26n— ANI (@ANI) January 5, 2022
No security lapse: Channi
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi reportedly said that there was "no security lapse." "The PM's road plans were made at the last minute. He was supposed to go by helicopter. I was up late at night overseeing security arrangements." Channi said only 700 people had shown up. Hence, the rally was called off and the Modi government is providing excuses, he added.
'Tricks to fail Modi's programs,' BJP accuses Congress
Meanwhile, BJP President JP Nadda accused Congress of trying "all possible tricks to scuttle" Modi's programs in Punjab. Slamming the state government, Nadda accused that protesters were given "access" to the Modi's route "while the Punjab CS (Chief Secretary) and DGP (Director-General of Police) gave assurances to SPG that the route is clear." The MHA also said that the DGP's clearance had been obtained.