Indian court panel blames Punjab police officer for breach of PM security

PM's convoy on a flyover in Punjab

A panel set up by India’s Supreme Court has blamed a top police official from Punjab state for a breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security in January.

The court said the official didn’t “strengthen the route” even after learning about a change in Mr Modi’s travel plans. His convoy was stuck for 20 minutes after protesters blocked a flyover.

They were demanding a cabinet minister’s resignation.

The federal home ministry had described the incident as a “major lapse in the security of the PM”.

The Supreme Court had set up a committee to investigate the incident. On Thursday, a bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana read out the report and said it would forward it to the federal and state governments “so that necessary steps can be taken”.

The report said that Harmandeep Singh Hans – then the senior superintendent of Ferozepur district, where the incident occurred – had “failed to discharge his duty”. He was transferred after the incident.

The breach occurred weeks ahead of state elections in Punjab.

Mr Modi had landed in the state’s Bhatinda airport and was scheduled to travel to two events including an election rally, in a helicopter.

His trip was, however, delayed by bad weather and the convoy finally went by road when visibility did not improve. But the convoy was blocked some 30km (18 miles) away from the first destination by protesters.

The protesters were demanding the resignation of junior home minister Ajay Mishra, whose son has been accused in an incident that left eight people dead in October.

The incident triggered a massive political row in Punjab and across India.

Mr Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party blamed the state government, then led by the Congress party, for the lapse, an allegation they denied. Punjab is now governed by the Aam Aadmi Party.

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