NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry has issued showcause notices to six senior officers, including the Bathinda police chief, over the “major lapses in security” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab, officials said here on Friday.
Bathinda Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Maluja and the five other officers were responsible for the prime minister’s security during his visit to the state on January 5 and they have been asked to reply to the notices, officials told PTI here.
The home ministry is the cadre controlling authority for the Indian Police Service (IPS) officers.
Modi had to cut short his visit to Punjab on Wednesday after he was stuck on a flyover for 20 minutes due to a blockade by some protesters, an incident described by the home ministry as a “major lapse” in security.
“Yes, we have served a showcause notice to the SSP of Bathinda and asked him to submit a reply on the serious security lapses during the PM’s visit,” a senior officer privy to the development said.
Ajay Maluja is currently serving as SSP Bathinda.
Another official said that showcause notices were served to at least five other senior officers of the Punjab Police who were on duty during the prime minister’s visit.
The identity of the other officers were not disclosed immediately, but sources said they are police officers on the rank of SSP, DIG and above.
The home ministry, through its showcause notices, has asked the officers as to why action should not be initiated against them under the law including disciplinary proceedings as prescribed in the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal), Rules, 1969, for the acts of omission and commission.
The punishment under the said rules include suspension, compulsory retirement, censure and withholding of promotions if found guilty.
However, action against the “delinquent” officers will be taken only after a thorough inquiry.
The Central government on Thursday constituted a three-member committee, led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat, and comprising of Balbir Singh, Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau, and S Suresh, IG, Special Protection Group, to enquire into the “major lapses in security” during Modi’s visit to Punjab.
The committee is advised to submit the report at the earliest.
After he was stranded on the flyover due to a blockade by protesters, the prime minister had to return from the poll-bound state without attending any event, including a rally.
The home ministry had directed the state government to file an immediate report, asserting it did not ensure the required deployment, while Home Minister Amit Shah said that such dereliction of the security procedure during the prime minister’s visit is totally unacceptable and accountability will be fixed.
The incident triggered a major political row as the BJP alleged the ruling Congress in Punjab “tried to physically harm” the prime minister, while other parties too attacked the state government over the law and order issue.
On the defensive, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi denied there was any security lapse or political motive behind it and said his government was ready for an inquiry.
The Punjab government has also set up a committee on Wednesday to enquire into the incident.