The Centre has expressed its dissatisfaction with the Chandigarh administration and described its action during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Chandigarh in September as “overreach”. This is despite the administration trying its best to cover up its lapses in its report submitted to the Union government. A letter sent by the Centre to the Chandigarh administration says that the administration “erred on the side of excess” when it ordered the closure of schools, cremation ground and made preventive arrests of several Congress leaders during the visit of the Prime Minister.
The Sunday Guardian has accessed the report of the Chandigarh administration and also the letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs expressing its unhappiness with the officials. By afternoon, the Prime Minister had tweeted: “The inconvenience caused to citizens in Chandigarh especially shutting of schools due to my visit is regretted. It was totally avoidable.” The same day, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi first called up and then wrote to the Chandigarh Adviser to the Administrator, Vijay Kumar Dev, asking for his explanation.
In his three-page report (also in possession of The Sunday Guardian) Dev claimed that the schools had been closed in public interest. “After due deliberations and consideration among all senior officers…a conscious decision was taken to keep the schools closed as school timings clashed with that of the PM’s visit,” he wrote.
The Adviser said that security and intelligence inputs received from police claimed that the opposition parties were trying to cause a blockade on the roads protesting against the issues of rising prices of onions and other local and national issues for which the police had even confiscated some banners and pamphlets.
“Apart from the risk to the VVIP, such demonstrations were also likely to hamper the normal flow of traffic in the city,” he claimed.
Regarding the detention of political leaders, Dev said that they were planning to mobilise people in large numbers for protests “just to cause embarrassment to the government by effecting road jams, showing black badges and releasing black balloons along the route of the dignitary which could precipitate into clashes and a law and order situation.” On the cremation ground, the administration claimed that no directions were issued to close it.
t blamed a newspaper for creating the “wrong perception” which resulted in some families “shifting the venue for carrying out the last rites at other places which too were not far away in any case.”
However, the unimpressed MHA wrote to Dev: “The comments offered by you on the issues of closure of schools and shamshan ghat and preventive arrests have not been found to be satisfactory. The government is of the considered view that it is a clear case of overreach and that Chandigarh administration has erred on the side of excess.” It further said, “While there can be no compromise with security of the PM, there is also no need to over-step the line and take actions which are not proportionate and seem unreasonable. You are asked to be careful in future.”