Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi claimed that he was denied permission to fly in his chopper twice on Monday due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first rally in the poll bound state after the farm laws were repealed. Channi claimed that his helicopter was denied permission to fly first while he was on his way to attend a rally in Hoshiarpur from Chandigarh, and then during his travel from Sujanpur to Jalandhar.
Channi said that his flights were restricted as the state’s skies were declared a no-fly zone due to the prime minister’s visit. Claiming that he had to wait for four hours to be permitted to fly, Channi said, “I was in Una at 11 am but suddenly permission to fly (to Hoshiarpur) was denied due to PM Modi’s movement… it was declared a no-fly zone. I was not able to attend Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Hoshiarpur. I had permission to land.”
“When I sat in the chopper, I was told that I cannot fly. I was not able to fly in my state despite being the Chief Minister of the state. Finally, I left for Sujanpur in the evening. But when I had to leave from Sujanpur to reach Jalandhar, my chopper was denied permission to fly. I have programs in Jalandhar but they are not allowing me to fly,” added the Punjab CM.
The incumbent Punjab chief minister further said, “I am the CM of the state and not a terrorist. The reasons are political… an attempt to unnecessarily harass me and stop me from campaigning. We are being stopped in our own state. The PM himself said in his speech that he could not fly due to Rahul Gandhi’s visit in 2014. Besides, he is upset with me due to the incident in Ferozepur during his last visit. It is an attempt to take revenge on me, on the farmers and on Punjabis. But whatever they might do, I will remain steadfast with the Punjabis. I am not afraid – they have tried to stop me today even if they try to harm me, or even kill me, even then I have no fear.”
Over being stopped at Sujanpur, from where he was supposed to fly to Jalandhar, Channi said, “We already had the permission, but were not allowed to take off. I had come and sat in the helicopter. Later, a go-ahead was received to leave for Sujanpur by the chopper but not for Jalandhar. They said I could not leave before 6pm. I had to leave by road.”
Speaking at the Panchayat Aaj Tak for Punjab election, Channi claimed that the prime minister was “exacting his revenge”. “He is the prime minister. We respect him. We say it repeatedly, not once. We do it from our hearts. If a threat comes towards him, we bare our chests first. Punjab has sacrificed a lot for the security of the nation. Punjab has given food,” said Channi, adding, “What is the issue with me? If the prime minister has gone to Doaba, then I was stopped from going to Doaba and Manjha. It is natural, I will say something. Then he [PM Modi] said that his chopper was stopped in Pathankot. So, is he exacting his revenge?”
Responding to Channi’s reactions to the media during the rally, PM Modi recalled how his helicopter was denied permission to fly in 2014 due to Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Punjab. “My name had been announced as PM candidate. I had to visit Pathankot and Himachal to campaign. But my chopper was not allowed to fly because their yuvraj [prince] was also in Amritsar. So, the Congress has a habit of not allowing the opposition to work,” said Modi.
The state aviation department claimed that the airport authorities had not declared any “no-fly zone” in the state during the prime minister’s visit. An official from the state aviation department said, “There is nothing called declaration of no-fly zones. The President of India’s house is a permanent no-fly zone. It is like that. On several occasions like Independence Days and Republic Day, they embargo other planes for about 15-20 minutes when the PM is flying. It is not done for hours.”