August 26, 2020 11:43:19 am
Asserting that he and his family have always loved their country and saluted the tricolour, Baljinder Singh (44), father of 19-year-old Akashdeep Singh who was recently arrested for allegedly raising a ‘Khalistan flag’ atop the Moga DC office and “desecrating” the Indian flag, said banned pro-Khalistan outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has been misleading youths in Punjab.
“These pro-Khalistan outfits such as SFJ and their leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. these people are misleading youths in Punjab in the name of Khalistan. Children of poor people are being misguided by these people in the name of Khalistan. Jehde eh Khalistan de bhaashan de rahe ne, oh ethe aap aake lain jhandey (these people who are giving pro-Khalistan speeches, why don’t they come here themselves and put Khalistan flags)? If you (Pannu) are a true Khalistani, then why don’t you come to Punjab and put Khalistan flags all around? My family and I have always saluted the tricolour for which Bhagat Singh laid down his life. We do not believe in any Khalistan ideology,” Baljinder told The Indian Express.
A construction worker from Sadhu Singh Wala village of Ferozepur, Baljinder claimed that Akashdeep only shot the video of the incident, that too after being “misled” by his cousin Jaspal Singh and his friend Inderjeet Singh, the other accused booked in the case.
“Jaspal is the son of my sister who lives in village Rauli. Akashdeep has been studying in Moga since two years and would keep shuttling between Moga and Ferozepur. My wife’s sister also lives in Rauli. That day (August 14), he was at his maternal aunt’s place when Jaspal called him and asked for the bike. My son refused as he had to come to visit us and needed the bike. A few hours later, Jaspal landed at my sister-in-law’s place and requested Akashdeep to drop him till Moga city. My son was not even aware that he was carrying the cutter, Khalistan flag and other material in a polythene. It was only after they reached the DC office and Inderjeet also arrived on a separate bike, that both (Jaspal and Inderjeet) went inside and reached the terrace. They told my son to stand on the road and shoot a video. It was only after he saw the saffron flag being raised, strings of the tricolour being cut and both of them raising pro-Khalistan slogans that he realised he was in trouble,” claimed Baljinder, whose elder son works in Malaysia.
Jaspal’s father is a police inspector. Baljinder claimed there was a possibility that he had helped his son in absconding.
“After the incident, Jaspal got the video transferred from my son’s phone to his which he further sent to numbers given by SFJ. However, he and Inderjeet absconded after the incident while they sent my son back home saying that since he only shot the video, he won’t be in any trouble and whatever they did wasn’t his responsibility. However, when the news started flashing all over TV channels and websites, my son realised his mistake and confessed to Jaspal’s elder brother Kaala, who then told his father,” said Baljinder.
Earning Rs 25,000-30,000 a month while working as a construction contractor, Baljinder said he already owns two houses in his village, bought a smartphone and a bike for his son and that they do not want a penny from anyone.
“I earn enough to fulfil all needs of my son. My wife also supports me financially and does stitching work. Since my son had joined ITI in Moga, I had given him my ATM card so he could withdraw money anytime but he never withdrew more than Rs 1,000-1,500 a month. Whenever I needed the bike, he used to go to Moga on a bus. He never demanded a separate bike for himself. He did not do this for money. He was planning his education ahead. He did not weave this conspiracy,” said Baljinder Singh.
Appealing to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to pardon his son, Baljinder said, “He has been booked for sedition and other harsh sections. I don’t know how to fight such cases and even talk to police officials because never before have I visited a police station. My son is only 19 and his entire life will be spoiled. If the government can pardon him, we will be really grateful.”
Baljinder only managed to have a brief conversation with his son after the latter’s arrest. “He just said..’Main zindagi vich koi vi ehda da kamm nahi karna chahunda si, par naa chahunde hoye vi ho gaya. (I never wanted to do any such thing in life, but unknowingly I did it)’.,” said Baljinder.
The three youths have been booked under sections 115 (abetment of offence punishable with death or imprisonment of life), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against Government of India), 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121), 124-A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of IPC and section 2 of the Prevention of Insult to National Honors Act, 1971.
Under section 121 of IPC, maximum punishment can also be death penalty or life imprisonment and under section 124-A (sedition), maximum punishment can be life imprisonment.
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