FEROZEPUR/NEW DELHI: While Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut short his trip to Ferozepur to launch Rs 42,000-crore projects in poll-bound Punjab on Wednesday following a security breach on a highway amid a stand-off, three explosive internal missives by Punjab Police on January 1, 2 and 4 on his rally had clearly directed state cops to “make necessary diversion plan in advance”.
The January 1 note accessed by The New Indian cites “farmer agitation” in the subject line with a terse warning to state administration and cops on duty for such preparedness and contingency action.
It was sent barely 24 hours before Modi’s visit to Bathinda and Ferozepur. The note raises questions if charges levelled by the BJP against Channi government in Punjab on endangering PM’s life by not keeping the route sanitised, from the cluster of protesters, are serious.
“Security and route arrangements in districts of 5th Jan – PMs Rally day in view of farmers agitation,” the note by Punjab ADGP (law and order) Naresh Arora reads.
“Any dharna may result in road blocks, therefore please make necessary traffic diversion plan in advance. Please brief your SSPs personally to assess plan of farmers and make necessary arrangements accordingly at personal level,” the memo adds.
It was sent to 11 ADGP-rank officers apart from supervisory officer on PM duty.
The New Indian has also accessed another detailed internal missive by the same ADGP where Punjab cops were even told about possibility of rain, seeking a road evacuation plan, raising questions if Channi government deliberately ignored the sanctity of such security briefings, leading to a public lapse.
This correspondence was sent on January 1 while it took the rainy weather into account.
“Due to rain prediction on January 5, Honourable CM and other VIPs may also be moving in your area on road specially Chandigarh to Ferozepur sector. Please plan route arrangements in advance at your personal level” the January 1 correspondence said.
It is not clear how the protestors reached the site, raising concerns on who among the administration leaked the change in Modi’s unscheduled road visit, after inclement weather and heavy rain forced the special protection group (SPG) to take him via convoy trip to National Martyr’s Memorial in Ferozepur, a journey that was cut short midway due to breach.
The January 4 note had also forewarned about such an incident and sought to disallow any protesters or motivated political outfits from reaching the place.
It says,”You are further directed to keep a watch on the movement of farmers and they should not be allowed to move to district Ferozepur to disrupt the rally”.
Congress leaders including CM Channi said that Modi’s programme to travel by road was a last-minute change even though his own cops had thrice warned him in letters on preparing an alternate route plan, while keeping the inclement weather and one lakh attendance in count.
“70,000 kursi lagi, 700 bande pahunche. Main kya karoo yaar,” Channi told media after the incident even as the country and global leaders watched PM’s cavalcade jostling for space following a 20-minute halt in the middle of a national highway, seen by onlookers and passers-by.
However, his own police had not just asked for recovery vans and deployment of force across all city naka points and key places including Hussainiwala border but admitted one lakh people were to turn up at Modi’s address.
“Around 1 lakh people are being mobilised by the organisers from all districts of Punjab..There is likely going to be traffic and large number of vehicles. You are requested to make necessary traffic and route arrangements in your area to ensure smooth movement of traffic by deploying force at important points,” the January 2 note said.
Senior BJP leader in Punjab accused Channi of distorting the facts to hide his government’s plan to leave gaps open in Modi’s security.
“How did CM Punjab give a verdict on gathering when the address had not yet begun. While is own police and administration officials knew that more than one lakh people were going to collect there. And if rain predictions were known to them, then what does last minute change in PM’s plan mean to them? It was a clear plan to use a section of protesters to intimidate SPG and trigger a furore,” said a BJP leader.
Several videos have surfaced from the site where farmers and agitators are seen collecting around the public address site and on the highway stretch from where Modi’s cavalcade was to pass through.
The missive that was sent on January 2 was even more detailed and had even directed state cops to readily tie-up with National Security Group (NSG) for the January 5 event.
“Ferozepur is a land of sugarcane fields, drains and tubewells, take these into consideration as deployment. At Hussainiwala, helipad be careful for in depth deployment without weapon. Extensive use of sniffer dogs for explosives. Please ensure protestors dont block the rally route, plan advance alternate routes. Ensure photographs of anti-national elements and equipments like tiffin bombs, grenades and IEDs are given to the GOs and shown to the men. Deployment on routes should be in groups and be mobile just in case it needs to be moved to remove blockade,” the January 2 internal note said.
As The New Indian tried to reach out to Punjab Police, officials were mum but said that either a political party individual or a cop had deliberately leaked the last-minute change in PM’s plan.
“We are trying to find out if the man belonged to Congress or Akali Dal or a policeman just informed the protesters,” said a cop.
PM on Wednesday was seen waiting in his vehicle, boxed in by SPG officers as his convoy took a U-turn after 20-minute waiting on a flyover, leading to a melee-like situation where buses carrying attendees were heckled by a group of protesters.
“It was a single biggest lapse in the security of any Indian Prime Minister in recent years,” the BJP has said.
“We know Congress hates Modi, today they tried to harm India’s PM. The state government of “knowingly constructing a scenario where the PM will be brought to harm” Union minister Smriti Irani said while addressing the media in Delhi
Aam Aadmi Party has also condemned the incident, saying no chances should have been taken with PM’s life even if there were political differences.
Less than two weeks ago, a human bomber had reached Ludhiana court on December 23, triggering a blast inside the court, raising similar questions on Channi government’s preparedness despite intelligence alerts.