The Centre is mulling action under the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act against certain Punjab Police officers following an alleged security breach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on Wednesday.
PM Modi’s cavalcade was stranded on a flyover 30 km from National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, Punjab following protesters blocking the road ahead. Calling it “a major lapse in the security of PM”, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday sought a report from the Punjab government and said it had asked the state government “to fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.
Sources said that even as the state government probes the incident, the Centre is preparing to take action against erring officials under provisions of the SPG. This could entail summoning of responsible officers to Delhi or institution of a central level enquiry against them, added sources.
“What happened on Wednesday in Punjab is a violation of the SPG Act as the state government failed to follow all protocols set by the SPG for the PM’s movement. Things are being worked out. Action will be taken,” said a government source.
Section 14 of the SPG Act makes the state government responsible for providing all assistance to the SPG during the PM’s movement.
The provisions titled ‘Assistance to Group’ states: “It shall be the duty of every Ministry and Department of the Central Government or the State Government or the Union territory Administration, every Indian Mission, every local or other authority or every civil or military authority to act in aid of the Director or any member of the Group whenever called upon to do so in furtherance of the duties and responsibilities assigned to such Director or member.”
In December 2020, when a convoy of BJP president JP Nadda was allegedly attacked by Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers during a political rally in West Bengal, the home ministry directed IG (South Bengal Range) Rajiv Mishra, DIG (Presidency Range) Praveen Tripathi and SP (North 24 Parganas) Bholanath Pandey to report to Delhi for a deputation with the central government as they were in charge of ensuring security to the convoy.
The three officers, however, were not released by the state government for central deputation.
The MHA then sought a report from the chief secretary and the director general of police (DGP) of West Bengal and even summoned them to Delhi for a meeting. The state, however, did not send a report and the two officers sought an excuse from the Centre on the ground that the state government was already probing the matter.
The developments led to a war of words between the TMC and the BJP then, with the former calling the MHA as being “vindictive”.