New Delhi, Jan 5 (EFE).- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Wednesday stuck for around 20 minutes on a highway in the northern state of Punjab after his path being blocked by protesters and had to return without reaching his destination in a “major security breach” that has triggered a political storm.
Modi had landed on Wednesday morning at a Punjab airport and was set to attend several campaign meetings but when his convoy “reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors” around 30 kilometers away from his destination, the home ministry said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security,” it added.
The ministry blamed the government of Punjab, led by the opposition Indian National Congress party, for not having deployed “additional security to secure any movement by road.”
Modi was initially set to travel by helicopter but bad weather conditions forced him to change his plans.
The home ministry insisted that the prime minister’s travel plan had been communicated to the Punjab government “well in advance” to make necessary logistic and security arrangements and have a “contingency plan” in place in case of emergencies.
After the security breach, the leader had to return to the airport without being able to visit the memorial honoring martyrs where he was set to address a meeting.
The incident was widely criticized by leaders of the ruling Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, which accused regional authorities of sabotaging the their election campaign ahead of upcoming Punjab elections in February and March.
“Today’s Congress-made happening in Punjab is a trailer of how this party thinks and functions,” Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted.
However, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that there had been no attempt to breach Modi’s security by the government.
“There has not been any attack on the PM, any risk to PM or any security lapse, we stopped the PM’s convoy much before the spot where agitators had blocked a road with their vehicles, and urged his team to take an alternative route or use a helicopter,” Channi told reporters.
Punjab, one of the few states currently held by the Congress, has been a hotbed of farmers’ protests against the central government’s proposed agrarian reforms for over an year.
The government had sought to reform the sale and markets of the agricultural products, but the farmers opposed it fearing that this would hand over control to big companies.
Although Modi accepted the farmers’ demands last month, several farmers’ groups had given a call for protests against his visit to Punjab. EFE