The Justice Ranjit Singh (retired) Commission, which is probing incidents of sacrilege in Punjab, wants to know under what circumstances the then Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini was shifted out in the aftermath of the October 2015 Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing incidents, and what led to the suspension of then Moga Senior Superintendent of Police Charanjit Sharma.
Two persons who were participating in a protest against the October 12, 2015, desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in Bargari village in Faridkot district were killed in police firing at Behbal Kalan on October 14, 2015. Sources said the Commission recorded the statement of Punjab Home Secretary Rahul Tewari in connection with the transfer of Saini and suspension of Sharma at its office in Mohali on Wednesday.
According to sources, on September 29, Commission chairman Justice Ranjit Singh (retired) wrote to Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Home) “to detail a competent witness to bring the record and to produce evidence (including file) for which government had felt necessary to change the DGP subsequent to the incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan.” The communication further said that witness should also bring the record and reasons for which then Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma was placed under suspension. The Commission directed that witness appear before the Commission on October 4 and produce record before the Commission.
Tewari, when contacted, said, “Yes, I appeared before the Commission and got my statement recorded as I was deputed to appear before the Commission.” He refused to elaborate. Sources, however, said Tewari submitted the official record pertaining to the transfer of Saini and suspension of Sharma, which attributed Saini’s transfer from the post of DGP to “administrative grounds”.
Saini was posted as Punjab DGP in March 2012. As per the Punjab Police Act, for transferring the DGP before completion of two-year tenure for special reasons, the government is mandated to record the reasons in writing. About the suspension of then SSP Moga, the official record submitted before the Commission noted that a Special Investigation Team headed had conducted a preliminary probe and noted there was “dereliction” of duty on the part of then Moga SSP.
Facing massive outrage over the sacrilege and killing of two protesters in police firing, the SAD-BJP government had removed Sumedh Singh Saini and appointed Suresh Arora as Punjab Director General of Police on October 25, 2015. The Commission is also learnt to have recorded the statement of then ADGP Law and Order Rohit Choudhary in connection with Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan incidents. It had also summoned the then Ludhiana police commissioner Paramraj Singh Umranangal and then Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma.