Meet the 1998-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh. The Punjab cadre is once again in the spotlight, this time as one of the select five officials probing a sensitive case pertaining to desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 and death of two protesting civilians in a police firing.
On Monday noon, the five-member Special Investigation Team, of which Kunwar is part, arrested Inspector General Paramraj Singh Umranangal from Punjab Police headquarters where he was on duty. This was the second such high profile arrest after the SIT picked up former Moga SSP Charanjit Singh Sharma.
Kunwar, also an Inspector General of Punjab Police, was on Monday busy briefing sections of media about the arrest.
He and members of SIT have already questioned the likes of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and actor Akshay Kumar in connection with the ongoing probe.
Investigating “high profile” cases is not new for Kunwar. The IG has had his own set of admirers and critics ever since he first shot into limelight for unearthing the Amritsar kidney scam in 2002. He was Amritsar city Superintendent of Police at that time. In October last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court acquitted five doctors who were awarded five-year-rigorous imprisonment by a trial court in Amritsar in the case in November 2013.
Kunwar had also investigated Amritsar sex scandal case of 2003. Several local politicians and cable network operators were booked in the case. On the directions of High Court, the case was later handed over to CBI. In 2013, a special CBI court acquitted all the accused in the case with complainant woman resiling from her statement.
During his stint, he has had run-ins with different politicians. Then BJP MLA Anil Joshi had gone on a hunger strike to seek transfer of Kunwar as Amritsar SSP in 2009. However, a number of NGOs came forward in his support and moved High Court to challenge transfer order of Kunwar.
His tenure as Jalandhar police commissioner and later Ludhiana police commissioner were also marked by sections of local politicians expressing anguish over his style of working, and resulting in his transfer from those places.
On a contrasting note, Kunwar has also remained a “blue eyed boy” for a section of politicians.
“We always follow our traditional jurisprudence to ensure justice to every single citizen, as enshrined under holy Guru Granth Sahib— “I honour and obey the saints and punish the wicked, this is my duty as God’s police officer”, says Kunwar, who played a cop in a guest appearance in a Punjabi movie Yaaran de Yaar.
Kunwar manages a prolific website about him kunwar.net, which he keeps updating with his latest public photos, blogs and write-ups.
An officer in Punjab Police said, “Kunwar has his own claim to fame. He is very media savvy and likes to hit headlines very frequently.”
“In the current SIT also, he is just one of the members, but it is only he who appears to be the face of the SIT. He is not even heading the SIT and there are other members. But, only Kunwar comes before the media,” said the officer.
Kunwar, meanwhile, says his role to control gangsters and crime was recognised by the Punjab DGP who awarded him with commendation disc for “ensuring gangster-free assembly elections 2017”.
Among other achievements that he mentions on his website are having rescued 53 child labourers on July 24, 2002, who were being exploited by the goldsmiths, and unearthing a gang dealing with unlawful admissions to the medical colleges by leaking the PMT (Pre Medical Test) papers.
He is also recipient of President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Services (Independence Day 2014) and IVF Award 2006 by India Vision Foundation (A trust founded by Dr Kiran Bedi) for Prison Reforms, besides other awards.