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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Explained: Why Deol’s appointment as Punjab Advocate General has raised eyebrows

Deol represented Saini in an alleged corruption case this month, when the Amarinder Singh government was under pressure for failing in making any headway in the 2015 Kotakpura police firing case, in which Saini was an accused.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar , Edited by Explained Desk | Amritsar |
Updated: September 30, 2021 7:55:55 am
AS Deol, PunjabAmar Preet Singh Deol takes charge as the Punjab Advocate General (Express photo)

The appointment of Amar Preet Singh Deol as Punjab Advocate General has raised eyebrows in political circles as the move may hurt the Congress party in public perception. Deol was associated with former Punjab Director General of Police Sumedh Saini and suspended Inspector General of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal.

Deol represented Saini in an alleged corruption case earlier this month, when the Amarinder Singh government was under political pressure for allegedly failing in making any headway in the 2015 Kotakpura police firing case, in which Saini was an accused. Saini managed to secure a blanket bail from Punjab and Haryana High court with Deol’s help.

Besides representing Saini in a human rights violation case, Deol also appeared multiple times for Saini and Umranangal in the 2015 police firing cases, which again are politically sensitive cases related to sacrilege incidents in the state.

Once powerful officers beyond the politics

Saini and Umranangal were the most powerful police officers in the state during the SAD-BJP alliance government. Both were accused of committing human rights violations during the militancy period.

Everything was going right for both the officers despite their controversial past until the 2015 Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan police firing incidents.

How Saini and Umranangal become politically untouchables

During a debate on August 28, 2018 in Punjab assembly on the Justice Ranjit Singh commission report on Behbal Kalan firing, Cabinet minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa had said that Saini was worse than Mughals when it comes to atrocities committed on Punjabis. Bajwa had said, “I was advised that if I named Saini, then a section of society would turn against us. I must not upset that section. I want to ask them, who gave me such advice, who were Vinod Kumar and Ashok Kumar missing in the Saini Motor case?”

Vinod Kumar disappeared from custody of the Ludhiana Kotwali police along with his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and driver Mukhtiyar Singh. They had been under detention from February 23 to March 3, 1994 and their bodies were never found. The main accused in the case is former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, who was then SSP Ludhiana.

Bajwa had made a politically brave statement in the assembly targeting all parties including his own Congress, for supporting a subtle perception that any legal action for human rights violations against police officers like Saini, who were in key positions during Sikh militancy in the state, would hurt a particular vote bank.

In August 2019, Patti Congress MLA Harminder Singh Gill wrote a lengthy post on Facebook and narrated the details of an alleged torture on his 73-year-old uncle during a raid conducted by Sumedh Saini at his home in Mohali in the middle of night in August 1992, when Congress’ Beant Singh was the chief minister.

“I am not able to understand why the Akali government appointed Saini as DGP, ignoring the allegations against him by four senior police officers?” asked Gill in the post.

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When a lawyer apologised after appearing for Umranangal 

In April 2020, Gurudwara Judicial Commission chairman Satnam Singh Kaler apologised to Sikhs for appearing as legal counsel for Saini in a human rights violation case.

After losing the 2017 assembly elections, SAD also attempted to disassociate itself with officers like Saini. It even said on record that appointment of Sumedh Saini as Punjab DGP during its rule was a mistake.

In April 2020, Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee had come down heavily on its employees who had honoured Umranangal for making an offering to the community kitchen of Golden Temple.

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