In a "major security lapse", Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur on Wednesday after which he returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending any event, including a rally.
The Union Home Ministry directed the state government to file an immediate report, saying it did not ensure the required deployment, while Home Minister Amit Shah said that such dereliction of the security procedure during the prime minister's visit is totally unacceptable and accountability will be fixed.
The incident triggered a major political row as the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged the ruling Congress in Punjab "tried to physically harm" the prime minister, while other parties too attacked the state government over the law and order issue.
On the defensive, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi at a press conference denied there was any security lapse or political motive behind it and said his government was ready for an inquiry.
In Delhi, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit back at the BJP, claiming Prime Minister Modi skipped the rally in Ferozepur as there were no crowds and asked the saffron party to introspect.
Channi too claimed that the turnout was low at the Ferozepur rally.
Modi who landed in Bathinda had to take the road route to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala in Ferozepurb because of inclement weather.
When the convoy reached near village Piareana on Ferozepur-Moga road, around 30 km away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, some protestors blocked the road following which the PM's cavalcade was halted for almost 15-20 minutes on a flyover.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Ferozepur) Inderbir Singh said around 100 farmers suddenly arrived on the spot and blocked the road.
A decision was taken to take the prime minister's convoy back to Bathinda airport after protestors started gathering on the other side of the flyover which could pose a huge security risk, he said.
Protesting farmers had blocked roads at several other places including Tarn Taran, Faridkot and Amritsar.
In the statement, the home ministry said that in view of the contingency plan the Punjab government has to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road, which were clearly not deployed.
"After this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda airport," the statement said
The ministry also asked the Punjab government to fix responsibility for the lapse and take strict action, the statement said.
Chief Minister Channi claimed that there was a sudden change in Modi's programme and he was scheduled to take a chopper to his destination.
"We respect our Prime Minister," Chani said and added "there was no security lapse of any kind and there was no situation of any attack...There was a sudden change in PM's travel plan from Bathinda to Ferozepur. BJP should not politicise the issue".
According to the laid down rules, an alternative arrangement during a VVIP's visit has to be ensured, officials in the know of the rules said, adding "if a VVIP is scheduled to travel by air within a state, an alternate route through land has also to be ensured in case of exigencies".
Modi was visiting Punjab after a gap of two years. His government has last month repealed the three central farm laws, which had led to a year-long farmers' stir in the state and at Delhi' borders.
Some farmer bodies including the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee had announced that that they will oppose Modi's visit.
BJP president J P Nadda alleged Channi refused to get on the phone to address the matter.
"The tactics used by the Congress government in Punjab would pain anyone who believes in democratic principles," Nadda said in a tweet.
Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who has joined hands with the BJP, too hit out at the Congress government and batted for the imposition of President's rule, while Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged there is a complete collapse of law and order in Punjab.
"If we have to keep our state safe and keep law and order here, then I think President's rule should be imposed," Singh, who formed his Punjab Lok Congress after parting ways with the Congress, told media after addressing a rally in Ferozepur, where Modi too was scheduled to speak.
"We are 10 km away from border in Pakistan, where function was kept (in Ferozepur). If you cannot ensure PM's security, what can you do? We need a strong government," he said.
The prime minister was scheduled to visit the national martyrs' memorial and address the rally in Ferozepur.
He was also scheduled to lay the foundation stones of development projects worth over Rs 42,750 crore, including the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway and a PGIMER satellite centre.
The projects also included four-laning of the Amritsar-Una section, Mukerian-Talwara broad gauge railway line and two new medical colleges at Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur.
"Today's Congress-made happening in Punjab is a trailer of how this party thinks and functions. Repeated rejections by the people have taken them to the path of insanity. The topmost echelons of the Congress owe an apology to the people of India for what they have done," Shah tweeted.
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma, who addressed the rally in Ferozepur and later interacted with reporters, said democracy has been "shamed" and alleged that state police had been directed to prevent people from joining the BJP rally.
"The prime minister wanted to meet you all, but because of some reasons he is not going to be with us today. The PM has said that these programmes (inauguration) have been postponed and not cancelled," Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said at the event.
The incident not only drew sharp reaction from the BJP but brought to the fore infighting in the Punjab unit of Congress when one of its senior leaders from Punjab Sunil Jakhar said the incident was against the ethos of 'Punjabiyat'.
He said a secure passage to the Prime Minister should have been provided for addressing a rally in Ferozepur.
Jakhar also said, "what has happened today is just not acceptable."
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who had snapped ties with the BJP over the farm laws, said there is complete collapse of law and order in Punjab.
"We have been saying this for long. The CM is incompetent to run the state," Badal tweeted.