The massive security breach that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stranded on an overflight of Punjab for 20 minutes on January 5 is proving to be the largest case study for security agencies handling VVIP security. They have hard questions to answer and equally hard lessons to learn.
As the Union Home Ministry and the Punjab government investigate the loopholes that led to the Prime Minister’s security breach amid the election campaign for the Assembly polls, the top three agencies – the Punjab Police, the Special Protection Group (SPG) and Intelligence Bureau – return to the drawing board to relearn the exercise to avoid a repetition and ensure the PM’s convoy does not stop until once it has reached its final destination without a hitch.
For now, the first question for senior officers to answer is whether all the steps outlined in the Union Home Ministry’s blue book have been followed “in letter and spirit” and if not why ?
On January 7, the Supreme Court asked the Registrar General of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana to “keep all files in his custody”. He also called on the Punjab police, the SPG and other central and state agencies to “cooperate and provide him with the necessary assistance”.
The Center admitted that the security breach is a “rarest of rare” case that could cause potential international embarrassment. The Supreme Court heard a motion calling for an investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the incident.
Former Maharashtra DGP Praveen Dixit, who is among 27 signatories to the letter written by former IPS operatives to President Ram Nath Kovind demanding immediate action against the wandering officials, said the Blue Book’s instructions issued by the Union Home Office require the DGP and Chief Secretary to remain present when the Prime Minister arrives in the state.
In this case, when bad weather prevented the prime minister from traveling by helicopter to the rally site and his convoy took off via the road, where senior state police officers and the secretary in charge were. chef? ” Dixit asked.
He said even the DIG and SP were seen as lax in their approach and that others were complicit in allowing protesters to run free. Dixit said it remains to be seen whether or not these officers and officials followed the Blue Book correctly or not.
“Each step is described in the Blue Book. In fact, before the PM’s trip, a report is prepared detailing the most careful steps to be taken keeping in mind the major and micro threat entries and the protocol exercises in case of requirements ”, DP Sinha, agent IPS principal, who served as secretary (security) in the cabinet secretariat and special director of the intelligence office, WEEK said.
Sinha said the Advanced Security Liaison (ASL) for the prime minister’s visit is mainly provided by the three agencies, but under the existing federal system law and order is the responsibility of the state government. “This is the main reason why the main responsibility lies with the state government rather than central agencies,” he explained.
Sources said the ASL for the Prime Minister’s visit was conducted by the SPG with the Punjab administration and police on January 1 and 2 and during the ASL, the emergency plan for the road trip from Bathinda in Ferozepur was discussed in detail. The survey of the route, the identification of the vulnerable points to be secured with a strong police deployment were discussed while keeping in mind the intelligence contributions concerning the possibilities of sabotage.
The emergency rehearsal for the road trip from Bathinda to Ferozepur took place on January 4.
According to government officials, the first rule of the first chapter of the SPG Blue Book says that the overall responsibility for ensuring the security of the PM rests with the state government and that the responsibility for providing immediate security rests with the SPG in accordance with the SPG law of 1988..
The second rule says that the state police must make all protective arrangements for the safety and security of the Prime Minister while the fifth rule states that the implementation of these rules will be the responsibility of the state’s DGP. .
Sources said that is why when the helicopter trip from Bathinda was not possible, the SPG director discussed with the state DGP the possibility of undertaking a safe and secure road trip from Bathinda to Ferozepur. It was only after obtaining permission to take the road that the convoy moved.
The role of SSP Bathinda is under review as it is learned that he piloted the motorcade from Bathinda to the border of Ferozepur district. Internal Punjab Police documents that show several communications on securing roads for the Prime Minister’s visit and travel will be investigated as these communications also speak of the traffic diversion plan in advance. because there was a probability of dharna this could cause the road to be blocked.
The farmers’ movement and possible attempts to disrupt the rally were all discussed, officials familiar with the discussions said. Yet the Prime Minister’s convoy found itself stranded on a flyover, leaving it to wait 20 minutes even as all hell broke loose behind grilled doors in the northern block of New Delhi when the Prime Minister turned around.
Senior IPS officer OP Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, said there was an urgent need to address the gaps in coordination between the different agencies involved.
“It seems that actionable and credible intelligence was not coming and even if it was, the glaring facts show that something has gone drastically wrong somewhere. There has been a violation of the provisions set out in the Blue Book, ”he said.
As the responsibility ends with the state government, the security breach will not be hastily forgotten. From show cause notices to investigations which may cost some officers their tenure and a political brawl that will continue until the Punjab elects its new state government, the security breach is also likely to be in the records of the three. agencies as the biggest failure. secures the country’s first VIP.