May 2022
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PM misses rally in Punjab after cavalcade stopped by protesters
New Delhi/Chandigarh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not attend a rally in Ferozepur of Punjab, after his cavalcade got stuck on a flyover for around 20 minutes due to a roadblock by protesters, raising a security concern.

The Home Ministry called it a major security lapse. Home Minister Amit Shah said a report has been sought from the state government over the incident.

Calling it "a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister", the Home Ministry said in a statement that the incident took place around 30 km from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala.

"When the PM's convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors. The PM was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse," said the statement.

"The PM's schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to the Punjab government. As per procedure, they have to made necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready.

Home Minister Amit Shah referred to the incident as a "Congress-made happening" and said "repeated rejections by the people have taken them to the path of insanity. The topmost echelons of the Congress owe an apology to the people of India for what they have done".

A war of words between BJP and Congress leaders ensued as Congress said the Prime Minister did not attend the rally due to the thin crowd at the rally. BJP leaders, meanwhile, slammed the Congress for compromising the Prime Minister's security.

BJP President JP Nadda alleged that it was a ploy by the Punjab government to prevent the Prime Minister from announcing major development projects ahead of Assembly elections.

The BJP chief questioned how the farmers were allowed to reach the Prime Minister's route despite assurances given by the Punjab Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to the Special Protection Group that the route was clear.

Union Minister Smriti Irani held a press conference and questioned the intentions of Congress.

"We know Congress hates Modi, today they tried to harm the PM of India," she said, accusing the state government of "knowingly constructing a scenario where the PM could be brought to harm".

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi however said there was no security lapse, adding that he was ready for any probe in the incident. He said state government had asked the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to discontinue the visit due to bad weather conditions and protests.

"There was no security lapse of any kind and there was no situation of any attack," he said.

He further said that the PM's convoy was stopped much before the protest spot and it took time to remove the agitators.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala hit back at the BJP for levelling "baseless allegations" over the security lapse in Punjab and claimed that it was due to "empty chairs" at the rally venue and the farmers' anger over unfulfilled promises that led to the cancellation of Ferozepur rally.

Surjewala said, "People of Punjab have shown the mirror to the 'arrogant' government in power by distancing themselves from the PM's rally. Cancellation was due to 'empty chairs'. Please accept your anti-farmer mindset and do some introspection."

The Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal also slammed the state government for the lapse.

AAP's Raghav Chadda said any lapse in security of the Prime Minister was unacceptable.

"Whatever our differences maybe, every state government must provide the highest level of security for the Prime Minister," he said.

Sukhbir Singh Badal said the lapse was reflective of the total collapse of law and order machinery in Punjab and that Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was solely to blame for this crisis.

The Prime Minister was to lay the foundation stones of various development projects worth Rs 42,750 crore in Punjab's Ferozepur today. A rally with former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who has founded his own Punjab Lok Congress, was also scheduled.

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