India World

Farmers block PM Narendra Modi’s cavalcade for not sacking junior home minister

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trapped on a flyover for 20 minutes by protesters in Punjab in what is being dubbed as a serious security lapse.

Mr Modi was on his way to a memorial in the northern state when the route was blocked by protesting farmers.

They were demanding the resignation of a cabinet minister whose son has been accused over the deaths of farmers.

“This was a major lapse in the security of the PM,” a statement from the central home ministry said.

Mr Modi was also scheduled to address a non-official political rally in the city of Ferozepur, ahead of state elections.

But the home ministry said the prime minister’s convoy returned to the airport following the blockade.

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.

A car linked to Mr Mishra had ploughed into protesting farmers in Uttar Pradesh state, killing four men. Farmers alleged that the son, Ashish Mishra, was behind the attack, but the Mishras deny the allegation.

Mr Modi arrived at Bhatinda airport on Wednesday morning, and was supposed to fly to the National Martyrs’ Memorial and later to the political rally in a helicopter. But the trip was delayed by bad weather and the convoy finally went by road.

The home ministry said it has sought a detailed report from the Punjab government on the “serious security lapse”.

“As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready,” it said.

The opposition ruled state hit back denying any such security breach calling it a “political drama”. It said the Prime Minister returned due to thin attendance at his non-official rally. Adding that the last minute change to travel by road instead of helicopter gave the organizers time to fill thousands of empty chairs but the protests on route to the rally venue gave the Prime Minister an excuse to end his trip early and return, rather than address a small crowd.

The Punjab government had reportedly deployed 10,000 security personnel for the Prime Minister’s visit in Ferozepur.