The committee probing the security breach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the last stages of collecting evidence. So far the probe is heading towards “planning failure” on PM Modi’s visit to Punjab in January this year.
“The committee is collecting evidence from all stakeholders concerned and compiling it together. So far it appears to be a planning failure but we are still in the process of taking a final view,” a senior government official said.
The Supreme Court-appointed committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra, is probing if there was any criminal conspiracy in the incident and the role of Punjab Police officers is also under probe.
PM Modi’s cavalcade was grounded on January 5, leaving him stranded for 20 minutes on a flyover about 30 km from Hussainiwala.
According to officials associated with the probe, the statements of all witnesses – Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel, Punjab Police personnel and also bystanders who were standing to cheer for PM Modi have been recorded.
“As per blue book of SPG (under which the SPG operates) while planning, all operational contingencies should have been factored in along with congruent emergency plans, secret operations and dummy drills,” said an officer, adding air force logs to records of alternate routes and those of safe houses identified along PM Modi’s route were also examined.
Sources said the committee examined videos showing PM Modi sitting in the car and those of the protesters blocking the road ahead.
“Justice Indu Malhotra accompanied by other members of the committee visited site where PM Modi was stuck and also where he was supposed to address,” another senior official aware of developments said.
Interestingly, the Intelligence Bureau, or the IB, has informed the committee that they had shared inputs with the Punjab government stating that “some sort of demonstration or agitation” could take place when PM Modi would be on his way to Hussainiwala.
The IB, in fact, had warned the state police that Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of the banned group Sikhs for Justice had been provoking local youths and luring them with money. Issuing a general alert, it asked the Punjab government to remain vigilant as the venue of PM Modi’s event was close to the border with Pakistan.
“So far it seems local police adopted a casual approach and did not follow due diligence,” a senior officer said, adding the Blue Book prescribes that the safety and security of the Prime Minister is the responsibility of the state government or Union Territory concerned.
The committee has asked former Indian Police Service officers who have experience with providing security to Prime Ministers for suggestions for strengthening security.