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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Punjab Dy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa: ‘Bargari sacrilege case is set to reach a conclusion soon, in days if not hours’

Randhawa said, "The report of STF in drugs case will also be opened on October 26, the next date of hearing. We are praying on the court to make both STF report and DGP Siddharth Chattopadhayaya’s report public."

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: October 21, 2021 1:01:09 pm
"We have withdrawn 35 per cent security from Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. He himself offered," said Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

PUNJAB DEPUTY Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa says he has spent a month untangling the mess that former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had left important cases in. The next few days are going to be action-packed, he tells KANCHAN VASDEV. Excerpts of the interview:

After one month of you taking over as deputy chief minister and 22 days after getting the Home department, why has no action been taken in important cases like Bargari sacrilege and STF report on drugs?

How are you saying I have not done anything? We have worked day and night. It has taken me a month to untangle the tangle in which Amarinder left these cases in. I will give you results soon. We had to discuss it in detail and understand all legalities. Bargari sacrilege case is set to reach a logical conclusion. It is a priority matter. We have done all the groundwork required to deliver justice from our end. I can only say that you will see action happening very soon. It may be a matter of days, if not hours. The case is already in court. I do not want to disclose the exact details today. The report of STF in drugs case will also be opened on October 26, the next date of hearing. We are praying on the court to make both STF report and DGP Siddharth Chattopadhayaya’s report public.

Why can’t the government make the STF report on drugs public on its own? Has the High Court prevented it from doing so?

We cannot make it public. It was on the direction of the court that the STF had prepared the report. It is in a sealed envelope. We will have to seek permission from the court to make it public even after it is opened in court. There will be more in case of drugs than the STF report alone. Just wait and watch what we do. People will feel justice has been delivered and real culprits have been put behind bars.

Do you think this ‘delivery of justice’ could mean vendetta?

When it comes to delivery of justice, there cannot be vendetta. The courts are there to see. Rather, if we do not deliver justice then it would mean we were just playing politics over the issues as was Amarinder Singh. There was no clarity. We used to raise issues with him each time and he would get upset and ask us whether he should jail Badals. But we never told him to put Badals behind bars. We were fighting that the Advocate General would not fight the case honestly. He would just take dates. This was the issue. We wanted them to fight in the courts and let them decide.

Another issue that you raised with Amarinder was of not taking the multi-crore irrigation scam to its logical conclusion. What is your government doing about it now?

Investigation into that scam has already started. There are several heavyweights also who were named in the scam including a few officials and politicians. If their role is established, we will not spare anyone.

You often demanded action against Special DGP (Provisioning) Prabodh Kumar, who refused to sign SIT report on Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing. After taking over as HM, why are you not acting yourself?

I am examining the file now. I have called for it. I will study it. I can assure you that if I find any police officer’s integrity doubtful, I will not spare him.

How many security personnel have you withdrawn after a week-long exercise?

We have withdrawn 1,200 personnel. You will be amazed to know that certain people engage these personnel, who cost the state government Rs 70,000 per month, as cooks and drivers while police stations are empty.

There are several aides of Amarinder who grumble that you took away their security?

We have withdrawn 35 per cent security from Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. He himself offered. He wanted we to withdraw more but a CM needs security at different places especially when he moves around a lot. Just imagine that former Adviser to Amarinder, BIS Chahal, had 65 security guards. He had five cooks and three drivers. His marriage palace in Patiala did not have bouncers but Punjab Police as security. We have now withdrawn all.

What are the challenges that you face?

The concern is that Pakistan always does something whenever there are elections. We have to be prepared. I have asked ADGP (law and order) to make sure that he carries out surprise checks in all districts on a regular basis and not just on Independence Day and Republic Day. My raising (the issue of) Pakistan does not mean I am talking like Amarinder. I want to ask him how he allowed an ISI agent at chief minister’s residence? Was she not Pakistani?

How is Amarinder’s party going to impact Congress leaders, especially those who had won by thin margins in 2017?

If he had such an impact, did the Congress need to oust him like this? Just call up his closest aides and ask them if they will quit Congress to join him. They may join SAD and contest against our candidates, but they would not join him.

Is the government replacing the Advocate General at PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s insistence?

It is upto the CM to see.

How does it feel to have missed the chief minister’s post by a whisker?

I am not like Amarinder, who would quit the party just because he has been removed as CM. It is the prerogative of the party to name anyone who they deem fit.

Who will be the next CM if Congress is voted to power in 2022?

Jehra banaya oh ki maara? (What is wrong with the one who is CM now?)

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