June 13, 2021 5:15:19 am
The new SIT constituted to probe the post-sacrilege firing case has summoned Akali Dal patriarch and former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal in connection with two FIRs registered at Kotkapura city police station on October 14, 2015 and August 7, 2018.
The new SIT, constituted on directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after it quashed the probe by previous SIT, is headed by ADGP rank officer L K Yadav.
“You are hereby called upon to appear in person along with the relevant record before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on date 16.06.2021 at 10:30 am at PSPCL Rest House, Phase-8 SAS Nagar (Mohali) for investigation of above said cases,” read summons issued to former CM under Section 160 (police officer’s power to require attendance of witnesses) of CrPC. The order, as accessed by The Indian Express, was issued by the office of the SIT on June 9.
On April 9, the HC bench of Justice Rajbir Sehrawat had quashed the investigation and chargesheet filed by Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who headed the SIT constituted by the Capt Amarinder government in September 2018, to probe the firing on anti-sacrilege protesters at Kotkapura on October 14, 2015.
Trashing the call details records involving then CM Parkash Singh Badal, then DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, local political representative (MLA) and district administration, and calling it “another aspect to highlight a hypothetical approach” of Kunwar, the court observed: “However, in the considered opinion of this court mere factum of a chief minister talking to the district administration or to the DGP of the state in the times of a situation where the law and order is disturbed, in itself, would not be sufficient to infer his conspiracy to kill or injure anybody through firing by the police upon the protesters, unless there is some other material collected by the investigating officer to establish prior meeting of minds for conspiracy and then directly linking the chief minister to such conspiracy.”
Kunwar Vijay subsequently took voluntary retirement and new SIT headed by Yadav was formed. In the order, court had directed constituting an SIT of three senior IPS officers from Punjab, which shall not include Kunwar, and which shall include at least one officer senior to him in rank and designation.
Terming Kunwar Vijay led SIT probe as “theatrics”, the court had observed that “if mere talking of the chief minister, or for that matter by a minister with his DGP or the district administration, is taken as a criminal conspiracy then any chief minister can be held criminally liable every day for any wrongdoing resulting from wrong functioning of district officials. The fact that the then CM was in contact with the district officials, rather, shows that he was alive to the situation and to his responsibility as a chief minister, even in the odd hours. Had the then chief minister not been in contact with the district administration and his DGP in such a critical situation, then he would have run the risk of being branded as another Nero who played fiddle when the Rome was burning. However, there is not any material collected by the respondent no.3 to even remotely suggest direct linkage of the chief minister to any conspiracy except the call records.”
High drama had ensued in November 2018 when Kunwar Vijay had reached Badal’s residence in Chandigarh at 2.30 pm and Badal had insisted that then SIT chairman Prabodh Kumar should also come. Badal had asked Kunwar to arrange for him to talk to Kumar on phone.
Later, Kumar had turned up at the residence of Badal and the questioning had continued for nearly 45 minutes.
After the questioning, Badal had told mediapersons that the SIT was “politically motivated to defame him and Sukhbir Badal” and “CM Amarinder Singh will get the SIT report written by the Advocate General where they (Badals) will be turned into culprits from witnesses”.
Meanwhile, the SIT headed by Yadav has already grilled former DGP Saini and number of other Punjab Police officers, including then DIG Ranbir Singh Khatra who had been instrumental in arrest of Dera followers in theft and sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, leading to anti-sacrilege protests in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan on October 14, 2015.
The SIT has reportedly also submitted an application before the Faridkot trial court to conduct lie detector test on Saini, then IG Paramraj Singh Umranangal (who was subsequently suspended) and then Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma.
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