In light of a recent security breach incident, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered for the protection of all travel records pertaining to the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Punjab this week.
The top court, while hearing a plea seeking a court-monitored probe into the security lapse allegations, directed the Punjab government to ensure that all records and materials pertaining to the Prime Minister’s movements in the state on Wednesday be immediately secured in the custody of the registrar-general of the Punjab & Haryana high court.
It also directed the Punjab Police, the Special Protection Group (SPG), and other central and state agencies to provide necessary assistance to the registrar-general, who will be accountable for the safekeeping of the travel records.Moreover, the director-general of police (DGP) of Chandigarh and an official of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will also act as nodal officers to coordinate with the registrar-general, directed the apex court.
It was also made clear that both the committees set up by the Centre and the Punjab government to probe the incident will put a hold on their inquiries till Monday (January 10), when the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Lawyer’s Voice is to be taken up next.Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, who was heading the three-judge Supreme Court bench hearing the case out today, was quoted as saying by Bar & Bench, “Ask both the committees to hold their operations till Monday. This will not be in the order, but it’s understood.”
In the meanwhile, a political row over the unprecedented breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security in Punjab has deepened as the central government promises tough action for the lapse while the Congress keeps rejecting allegations that the Prime Minister was put in harm’s way.
The incident occurred in Punjab’s Ferozepur district on Wednesday afternoon when the PM’s motorcade was stuck on a highway for about 15-20 minutes as protesters blocked his route. The blockade was led by members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), one of the 32 farm organisations that were part of the 14-month-long protests against the three laws.
The Centre, BJP, security experts, and former police officers all stressed the dangerous precedent set by the incident, with both the Union government and the BJP pointing to lapses by the Punjab police and the state government, and alleging that dirty politics was at play. The Congress contended that the decision by the SPG – which protects the PM – to not use a helicopter and instead take the road to Ferozepur was made at the last minute, and not clearly communicated to state authorities.On Thursday night, the Punjab government submitted its preliminary status report to the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA), citing the sequence of events leading up to the security breach. The report termed the gathering of protesters where the Prime Minister’s convoy was stuck as “spontaneous”, and suggested that enough efforts were made to clear the road leading to the rally venue and other places where the Prime Minister was to visit.