Exactly a year and a week ago, there were allegations of lapses in the prime minister’s security arrangements in Punjab. The Prime Minister’s convoy got stuck due to farmers’ protests. The Center blamed the Congress government in Punjab.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security ring cracked again in Hubli, Karnataka on the 12th. Modi went to Hubli to attend the national festival on Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary. His road show was running from the airport to the Railway Sports Ground. The prime minister was standing with the car door open and waving to the crowd on both sides of the road. At that time, a teenager broke the barricade of the footpath and ran with a garland and reached right in front of the Prime Minister.
At the last minute, the SPG officers in charge of the Prime Minister’s security removed the 11-year-old boy. The Prime Minister, however, extended his hand and took the flower garland from the hand of the teenager. After that, the Karnataka Police arrested the teenager and started an inquiry about him.
Question of responsibility
The incident naturally brought back memories of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in the minds of security experts. The question arises, who is responsible for this lapse in security, the SPG, who is in charge of protecting the Prime Minister, or the Karnataka Police? After the removal of SPG security for the Gandhi family and others, the SPG’s job is now to protect the Prime Minister only. So, how did the security breach happen? The question has been raised whether the Prime Minister made a mistake by reaching out and taking the garland from the hand of the teenager.
After the incident in Punjab last year, the central government and the BJP blamed the Congress government entirely. Angered by the convoy’s impoundment, Modi himself sarcastically said on his way back to Delhi, “Thank the Chief Minister of Punjab for me that I was able to return alive!” But Karnataka is now ruled by BJP. Former DG of Uttar Pradesh Police Vikram Singh blamed Karnataka Police for the incident. According to him, the responsibility of the barricade on both sides of the road is the responsibility of the state police. VIPs cannot be blamed for reaching out and taking garlands.
Hubli-Dharwad Police Commissioner Raman Gupta claimed that this incident cannot be called a lapse in the Prime Minister’s security. He argued, “Everyone standing on both sides of the road was frisked. Flowers and garlands were also checked in their hands. Three thousand police personnel were deployed on the entire road. Everyone was told what to do and what not to do. Still this boy suddenly jumped on the street.”
After the Punjab incident, an inquiry committee headed by a retired judge was set up by the Supreme Court. The committee held the Punjab Police responsible. It is not yet clear whether the Karnataka incident will be investigated in the same way. The Prime Minister also did a road-show by standing on the car’s ‘running board’ during the Gujarat election campaign.