Amid allegations of manhandling of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by the Uttar Pradesh police, CRPF personnel on duty have told CRPF headquarters that the Z-plus category protectee did fall down near polytechnic chauraha of Lucknow but it was because she lost her balance and not because someone deliberately pushed her.
"A lady inspector on duty and the fleet commander Archana tried to stop her from proceeding because no prior information was available about where she was going. Priyanka Gandhi lost her balance when she tried to dodge them and move ahead," a senior CRPF official told CNN News18.
The Central Reserve Police Force, responsible for guarding Priyanka, has also officially responded to her allegations of a security breach. In a letter to the Congress leader, the CRPF said that it did the best it could in the challenging circumstances of no information about her travel plans.
"Despite these security constraints, appropriate security cover was provided by CRPF during the visit. Such security breach are communicated to the protectee and advised for ensuring proper security arrangements," PK Singh, IG Intelligence, CRPF, said in his letter.
In a statement released to media, CRPF listed three violations by Priyanka Gandhi which lead to the situation in Lucknow on December 28. "Regarding the sequence of events on December 28, the following security violations had occurred: Unscheduled movement of the protectee without intimation as such ASL could not be conducted; during travelling the protectee used non-BR civil vehicle without PSO; the protectee took a lift in scooty as a pillion rider," it said.
"On December 28, the only programme indicated was a visit to PCC office for attending Congress foundation function, for which an advance security liaison (ASL) protocol had been conducted.
Abhay Mishra, CO Hazratganj, at around 8 am visited the place of stay to enquire about the detailed programme of the day of the protectee which was not communicated by the personal staff. There was no breach in security by the official," CRPF added.
CRPF officials told CNN News18 that it is unfair to blame the security personnel for the lapse since 10 CRPF men dressed in civil clothes can be seen constantly trying to catch up with Priyanka Gandhi. "If you see the videos on social media, our boys in grey suit are walking with her, trying to keep away pedestrians. These personnel have been specifically trained to provide close proximate security but have to adapt on the go if the protectee doesn't cooperate. They also gave a chase in a Scorpio when she takes a scooty ride," CRPF official told CNN News18.
Gandhi had written to IG CRPF on Saturday alleging that she was pushed to the ground and grabbed by the throat when she resisted the attempts to stop her from visiting the residence of retired IPS officer SR Darapuri, who was arrested in connection with the CAA protests.
The CRPF sources said as per the security manual, the central force can't prevent the local police from doing its job since they are responsible for local security liason- ASL. "It is clear in the yellow book that the CRPF or SPG would provide proximate security but the ASL has to be done by local police. If they feel an area is not secure and prevent protectee from going there, we can't prevent the police from doing its job," senior CRPF official said.
CRPF has written three separate letters to Priyanka Gandhi on her unscheduled visits to Bijnor, Meerut and Delhi's India gate which created a security challenge for the force guarding her.