The Election Commission on Wednesday suspended a General Observer belonging to Karnataka IAS cadre for allegedly checking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's helicopter in Odisha's Sambalpur on Tuesday.
Mohammed Mohsin was suspended with immediate effect for acting contrary to the instructions of the Commission concerning SPG protectees and will be posted at Sambalpur till further orders, a poll panel letter dated April 16 said. According to the Election Commission order, he was suspended since "SPG protectees are excluded from checking."
However, Congress has alleged that there is no such rule that exempts SPG protectees from being searched.
"The rule cited governs the use of official vehicles for campaigning. It does not exempt PM's vehicle from being searched," the Congress stated in a tweet.
An official was suspended by ECI for doing his job of inspecting vehicles.— Congress (@INCIndia) April 18, 2019
The rule cited governs the use of official vehicles for campaigning. It exempt PM's vehicle from being searched.
What is Modi carrying in the helicopter that he doesn't want India to see? pic.twitter.com/apDdhgSMJB
A Karnataka cadre officer of the Indian Administrative Service, Mohsin was deputed as a General Observer and working under the supervision of the poll panel in Odisha.
"... the Commission has considered the material available before it and prima facie finds it dereliction of duty," said the letter.
Sources told the Times of India that when PM Modi reached Sambalpur to address a rally on Tuesday, election officials inspected his convoy, which constituted a violation of protocol.
A senior police officer present at Sambalpur airstrip, speaking on condition of anonymity told ToI, "A team of poll officials led by Mohsin inspected some papers in the chopper carrying the PM. The inspection delayed his arrival at the meeting venue by around 20 minutes which was reported to the ECI."
The Prime Minister had visited Odisha on Tuesday and addressed two rallies in Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar.
Mohsin is presently secretary in the backward classes department. Karnataka Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar said he was not aware of the incident and said the state cannot intervene in the matter.
On whether the official is barred from carrying out his duties after the elections as a result of the order, Bhaskar said, "Only after we receive further directives from the commission we can consider the next step."
Earlier this week, the Karnataka Congress had tweeted a 14-second video clip showing two men carrying a black box allegedly unloaded from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's helicopter to a private Innova parked at a helipad, claiming that the video was filmed soon after Modi landed in Chitradurga last week to address an election rally. The Congress demanded that the EC conduct a probe into the same.
With IANS inputs