On a massive security breach that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stuck on a highway in Punjab for 20 minutes on Wednesday, the Supreme Court today directed that his travel records be preserved.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s Registrar General has been asked to “keep all records in his safe custody” and the Punjab Police, the Special Protection Group (SPG) and other Centre and state agencies are to “cooperate and provide necessary assistance” to him, the Supreme Court said.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also directed that the separate investigations ordered by the Punjab government and the Centre be paused till Monday.
The security lapse is a “rarest of the rare” case that could cause potential international embarrassment, the Centre told the Supreme Court, backing a petition calling for a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“The incident created a very serious situation for the PM’s security,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, urging the Supreme Court to call for records related to PM Modi’s visit and security in Punjab on Wednesday.
“Both the Punjab government and the police were responsible for the security lapse…There’s also possibility of cross border terrorism. This is something which ought to have been avoided, it’s a case of potential international embarrassment,” Mr Mehta said.
The Punjab government countered that it is not taking the case lightly. “We have formed a committee on the same day. Even the Centre has formed a committee. We are open…any person can be appointed to investigate this matter,” said the state’s lawyer.
“Our Chief Minister has said the PM is our PM too. We also want it to be investigated. Whatever the court thinks fit may be done.”
In the middle of an intense campaign for the approaching Punjab election, allegations have been flying between the Centre and the state over the incident that took place when PM Modi visited Bathinda for events that included a rally at Ferozepur.
When bad weather prevented PM Modi from flying to the rally site by helicopter, his convoy took off by road for a two-hour journey. Around 10 km short of the rally venue, the PM’s convoy was stranded on a flyover because of protesting farmers. After waiting for 20 minutes, PM Modi turned back and left, scrapping his programmes.