Modi’s security to be beefed up further after Mysuru mobile phone incident

Several Assembly elections are due this year, followed by the LS polls next year. Therefore, the PM is expected to participate in numerous rallies over the next 12 months

Modi mobile phone Mysuru Mysore
The exact moment when the mobile phone was accidentally hurled at the PM"s special vehicle in Mysuru on Sunday | Video grab: Twitter

Top security officials in charge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security detail have quietly started a review of the Special Protection Group’s (SPG) standard operating procedure following the scare caused by a mobile phone landing on the bonnet of Modi’s vehicle during an election roadshow at Karnataka’s Mysuru on Sunday (April 30).

Since a similar incident happened recently in Kochi, Kerala, the security establishment wants to lay down fail-proof measures to make sure breaches do not happen during the election season.

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan are among the states where Assembly elections are due this year, followed by the Lok Sabha election next year. Therefore, the Prime Minister is expected to participate in numerous election rallies, involving huge crowds, over the next 12 months.

The director and senior officials of SPG, top officials from the Intelligence Bureau, and top guns from the Cabinet Secretariat are looking at the situation that led to the security breach, top sources said on condition of anonymity. A “security audit” is underway, they added.


Also read: Dynastic Congress, JD(S) responsible for Karnataka political instability: Modi

The mobile phone issue

After detailed consultations, the PM’s security is likely to be upgraded further to ensure that the showering of flowers and the mobile phones carried by the massive number of people at election rallies do not cause any security threat. The issue is quite serious since mobile phones can be converted into explosive devices since they already have a battery and a timer, apart from having remote-activation potential through the SIM cards.

Intelligence officials and SPG representatives are in touch with the Karnataka Police to get all details about the Mysuru incident and investigate it thoroughly. Top Karnataka Police officials have informed the security establishment that the owner of the phone has been traced, and the owner happens to be a BJP member. The woman has informed the Karnataka Police that she was trying to shower flowers on the Prime Minister and wave at him when the phone accidentally slipped out of her hand.

The Karnataka Police are in the process of recording the woman’s statement, and Alok Kumar, Additional Director General (Law and order), has confirmed that prima facie, the explanation appears to be genuine. In fact, the mobile phone has been returned to the woman.

When the Prime Minister was waving at the crowds from a special vehicle during his Mysuru road show on Sunday, the mobile phone landed on the vehicle’s bonnet. SPG commandos immediately seized the phone and took it away. The incident happened when the special vehicle was near a clock tower on Sayaji Rao Road, according to Karnataka Police. BJP MP Pratap Simha, along with senior leaders KS Eshwarappa and SA Ramadas, were on the vehicle near Modi, and people gathered on both sides were showering flowers on the Prime Minister.

Also read: Karnataka polls: Cong associated with 85 per cent commission, says PM Modi

Recent breaches of PM’s security

A similar incident happened in Kochi on April 26. The Prime Minister was waving at the crowds showering petals on him from both sides of the road when a mobile phone came flying. An alert commando caught the phone and threw it back immediately and the PM’s programme continued unhindered.

Some other recent incidents have also caused concern, according to sources. Last November, a person was found removing the nuts and bolts from the security barriers at a PM rally site at Banaskanta in Gujarat. Last July, black balloons released to protest Modi’s visit to Vijayawada flew close to the PM’s chopper, causing concern. In Karnataka, there were two incidents of the public suddenly trying to garland Modi without any permission.

Of course, officials reckon the most major security lapse of recent times to be the June 2022 incident in which Modi’s cavalcade faced a roadblock on a flyover in Punjab. Since the PM was forced to return due to the roadblock and the area was near the Pakistan border, action was initiated against Punjab Police officials for lapses in the PM’s security.