Sunday 23 January 2022
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FIR does not mention PM was stuck: Another instance of Punjab Police’s incompetence

The FIR was registered by inspector Birbal Singh who said that on 5 January, at 2:30 PM, he reached the flyover and found that the prime minister had gone

The first information report (FIR), lodged 18 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s convoy got stuck in a flyover on the Moga-Firozpur highway in Punjab on 5 January when a bunch of protesters blocked the way, keeping the cars stuck for 20 min, hardly mentions the incident. The FIR was registered against unknown people on January 6 at 7:40 AM.

The protesters had blocked the road at 1:05 pm on 5 January when the prime minister was on his way to Village Hussainiwala, some 7 km from the India-Pakistan border. The FIR was registered, mentioning a road jam, under Section 283 (danger or obstruction in the public way or line of navigation) of the IPC. The culprits are to be fined Rs 200 as punishment. Surprisingly, the FIR does not mention Prime Minister Modi stuck on the spot.

The FIR was registered on the complaint of police officer Birbal Singh who said that on 5 January, at 2:30 PM, he reached the flyover and found that the prime minister had returned to the Bathinda airport some 1 h 30 min before that. He did not participate in any political program in the election-bound state.

The FIR states that the inspector was informed that unidentified people had been protesting on the Moga-Ferozepur road. It says the road leading to the “ rally” — this is misinformation; it was a function to pay tributes to martyrs — had been closed due to the protest, and even VIPs could not get a passage. SHO of Kulgari police station Birbal Singh discharged his duty at the given point and went to the police station and got the case registered, the FIR says.

Punjab secretary Sukhpal Singh Sara said it was very strange that the prime minister of the country got stuck at 1:05 PM while police in Ferozepur came to know about the blockade at 2:30 PM. “Then they took so long to register the FIR?” he exclaimed.

The Punjab government had on Friday sent a report to the home ministry on the security breach, stating that the state police had registered an FIR and a two-member committee has been constituted to probe the matter.

Sources said a day before the prime minister’s visit, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had been informed that Punjab Police had ensured that the road was not blocked. Deputy Secretary at the MHA Archana Verma issued a show-cause notice to Bathinda SSP Ajay Maluja, asking him to respond by Saturday evening. The MHA asked why action was not taken on security lapse during the prime minister’s visit under All India Services (Discipline and Appeal), Rules, 1969.

The notice mentions that the route clearance was given without properly addressing the security concerns raised in the meetings held on 1 and 2 January. As per the rule book and established procedures, the superintendent of police is mandated to make adequate arrangements for security and logistics during VVIP visits and make emergency plans by deploying adequate security personnel.

SSP Maluja said that the role of the police in Bathinda was up to the boundary of Village Jida and the area was peaceful that day. A three-member MHA team began its probe in Punjab yesterday. The team, led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, the secretary (security) in the Cabinet Secretariat, visited the Martyrs’ Memorial at Hussainiwala, BSF Sector Headquarters and Bhisiana Airport.

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