He has at least six cases – mainly on charges of hurting religious sentiments and making casteist remarks – registered against him. He has been arrested several times and spent some time in jail.
Yet, Sudhir Suri, a self-styled leader of Shiv Sena (Taksali), enjoys a state-provided security cover that even the lawmakers in Punjab can only dream of.
Punjab Police has sanctioned 15 of its personnel for Suri’s security detail. “He has been given eight gunmen, five constables and two drivers. He has been given only one police pilot Gypsy. The security cover, however, is not enough. We have filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking central government security cover for Suri,” said his spokesperson Ranjit Singh.
The legislators are provided security according to security assessment and threat perception. The standard security cover for an MLA in Punjab includes four policemen. The MLAs can choose between pilot Gypsy and personal vehicle.
Ranjit Singh justified the demand for more security citing Suri’s “activism” against terrorists.
“It was Sudhir Suri who first made a complaint against (legal advisor to US-based banned radical outfit Sikh For Justice) Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. The police, however, took no action (against Pannu) despite repeated complaints. Suri is on target of terrorists. He has been speaking against terrorists for long and that is why he has been given security by Punjab Police,”added Ranjit.
The Punjab Police last week registered two separate FIRs – one each at Amritsar and Kapurthala – against Pannu and his associates on charges of sedition and secessionism.
The FIRs came a day after Centre designated Pannu and eight others as terrorists under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for actively running a secessionist campaign against India and motivating the Sikh youth from Punjab to join militant ranks.
The FIR registered in Amritsar is based on a complaint filed by Dalit Suraksha Sena (DSS) in March last year. In its complaint, the DSS had said that Pannu and others first dishonoured the national flag and a copy of the Indian Constitution before setting them on on fire, all the while raising slogans of Khalistan Zindabad.
The act was recorded in a video, in which Pannu was also seen inciting the Sikh community against the Indian Constitution and in favour of the Referendum 2020, said the complaint.
While Punjab Police acknowledged that Pannu has been booked on the complaint filed by the DSS, the chairman of the little known Dalit body, based in Amritsar, claimed that he was yet to be provided security cover despite having made requests for the same.
“The case against Pannu has been registered on my complaint. I had demanded security. So far no security has been granted. There is definitely a threat to my life. Government should provide me security,” said DSS chairman Lovleen Luv Mattu.
He alleged that it is was the caste system at play due to which Dalit leaders were not being provided security cover, while men like Suri enjoy the same.
“At least four cases are registered against Suri under section 295 (a) for hurting religious sentiments and one under the SC/ST Act. Last year, he was also booked for using defamatory words against Bhagwan Valmiki,” Mattu said adding that despite the police complaints no action was taken against Suri.
“We had to knock National Schedule Caste Commission after Amritsar police failed to arrest him,” he added.
The first case for hurting religious sentiments was registered against Suri in 2014. He was booked and arrested in April for making communal and objectionable remarks against the Tablighi Jamaat community on a social media.
The case, under Sections 115, 153-A, 295-A and 505 (2) of the IPC, was registered following an anonymous complaint received in the complaint box for allegedly hurting the sentiments of people and thereby creating law and order problem.
Ranjit had termed it as a false and fabricated case claiming that the said social media account did not belong to Suri.
“Police has implicated Suri in false cases. He is being targeted by some police officers,” Ranjit said.
On Wednesday, Amritsar Rural police registered one more FIR against Suri under Section 153-A of IPC for allegedly “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.
The FIR was registered on the complaint of Sikh activists, who had staged dharna outside SSP office for not taking any action on an alleged video of Suri in which he was purportedly seen using objectionable langauge for women and the Sikh community.
“Suri is a hate monger and often makes remarks against minorities and Dalits. There is no sense in providing him security. We had demanded that he be stripped of his security and arm license. Our religious leader Meghnath ji, on whose complaint a case was registered against Suri, has been given only one temporary constable. We demanded proper security cover for Meghnath ji. But our demand was not entertained,” said Mattu.
“We feel that we are being discriminated against as we are Dalits. Suri belongs to general caste. The government and the administration favours him. It helps Suri maintain his authority,” Mattu further alleged.
Soon after taking charge, DGP Dinkar Gupta had reviewed the VVIP security cover freeing close to 2000 personnel from such duties.
The VIP security came under scanner in April again after the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh himself offered to reduce his security cover to free more personnel for various Covid related duties and distribution of relief material.
Following in his footsteps, various senior police officers and bureaucrats too pruned their security, freeing around 350 policemen.
Asked about the heavy security provided to Suri, Amritsar Rural SSP Vikramjeet Duggal said, “We have been providing security to Suri as per the assessment and instructions of police headquarters in Chandigarh.”
Amritsar city police spokesman said that the request of DSS chairman for security cover is under consideration.
Recently Punjab Police had recalled its personnel who were in security detail of Lok Insaf Party MLA Simranjit Singh Bains after he gave a statement allegedly in favour of Nihang Sikhs, who, on being asked to show curfew pass during lockdown, got into a fracas with cops and chopped off the hand of a police official in Patiala.
In its statement, police had said that all its personnel deployed with Bains had declined to provide him security cover as they were hurt over his statement.
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