Updated: May 9, 2021 1:20:26 am
A day after Punjab government constituted a new SIT to investigate Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing case, disquiet prevailed in the Congress camp over the six-month time period given to the SIT for submitting its report.
The latest development has created a storm in the party with several leaders saying they had specifically advised the government to get the investigation done within a month and bring the guilty to book.
They argued that by the time the report will be out, the state would already be under the Model Code of Conduct for the upcoming Assembly polls.
The government had constituted the SIT on Friday, after several detractors of CM Amarinder Singh got together to form a pressure group. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the government to constitute a new SIT after quashing the investigation by the earlier SIT headed by Kunwar Vijay Pratap.
“Now, we cannot dispel the perception that the Congress has a quid pro quo with Akalis. By the time the report is out, we will already be into elections as the state will be going to elections in early next year,” said a minister.
Another party leader said, “The other day in the special meeting on the issue, we advised the CM that the report should be out in a months’ time as we have already taken four years and we cannot fulfil our pre-poll promise of bringing the guilty to book. But some officials insisted that the government should give the SIT six months. This shows who wants to save the Akalis.”
The government’s SIT comprises ADGP/Vigilance Bureau L K Yadav, Commissioner of Police, Ludhiana, Rakesh Agarwal and DIG, Faridkot Range, Surjit Singh. They would investigate the two FIRs (dated Oct 14, 2015 and Aug 7, 2018) registered in connection with the Kotkapura firing incidents. As per the orders issued by the Home Department.
Former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also hit out at the Chief Minister by tweeting: “Sad !! Due to incompetence of Home Minister, Govt is forced to accept orders of the High Court, which the people of Punjab are standing up against. Giving 6 months to new SIT, extends the delay of govt’s biggest poll promise, unfortunately up till next elections code of conduct.”
In another tweet, he said, “Injustice caused by deliberate delay is betrayal of people’s mandate. after multiple inquiry commissions, SITs and passage of 6 years, evidence has weakened while accused have gained in wisdom, making their defence stronger due to repetitive investigations on the same matter.”
A number of party leaders are already miffed with the government alleging that it had “botched up” investigations into the firing and they had to answer questions of the people.
“People will accuse us of quid pro quo now. We do not know what to do. We are fighting against our own government. What a tragedy,” a party MLA said.
Rajya Sabha leader Partap Singh Bajwa also demanded that the investigation should be expedited. He said, “The investigation should be expedited we should ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice as soon as possible.”
“The High Court gave a timeframe of six months in its order, which means that the investigation should be concluded before that. There is no restriction on the state government to fix a timeframe of less than six months i.e one month. Given that there exists information from the previous SIT, the government should pass an order to fix a shorter timeframe.”
Bajwa also said that the SIT comprising of L K Yadav, Rakesh Agarwal and Surjit Singh would not be able to expedite investigation as all these officers are posted in different districts.
“They would also be neglecting their duties pertaining to their present postings. Hence, these officers should be transferred out from the present postings temporarily and be posted at Faridkot only as members of SIT so that they are able to work jointly and expeditious investigation becomes a reality. Once they complete the investigation and file the challan, they may be posted back to their present postings,” he said.
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