While refuting a claim by former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini’s wife that that “the ex-DGP’s security had been withdrawn, endangering his life”, the Punjab Police on Thursday claimed that Saini had in fact absconded leaving his security detail behind. Saini was booked in May in connection with the disappearance of Balwant Singh Multani, a junior engineer with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation, in 1991. The former police chief is a ‘Z+’ category protectee of the state government.
In her letter to Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta, Saini’s wife said that “the security to him (Saini) and to his family had been suddenly withdrawn today”.
Issuing a categorical denial, a spokesperson of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the extra-judicial killing case that was subsequently converted into a case of murder, said that Saini “had absconded, leaving his security detail behind, a day before the High Court was due to hear his anticipatory bail application in the murder case of former CITCO employee Balwant Singh Multani.”
He added: “Contrary to what had been claimed by Saini’s wife in a letter to DGP Dinkar Gupta, there had been no change whatsoever in the security detail and the paraphernalia, including the security box and Jammer vehicle, provided to the former police chief, who is a ‘Z+’ category protectee of the state government.”
“The fact of the matter was that Saini seemed to have left his Chandigarh residence without Punjab Police security personnel and security vehicles, including Jammer vehicle, on his own, thus jeopardizing his own security…What is more, the security vehicle, including Jammer vehicle, can still be seen standing outside his Chandigarh residence, where the security personnel are idling away their time waiting for his return,” said the spokesperson.
The SIT spokesperson went to claim that “the letter written to the DGP by Saini’s wife, who also seemed to have disappeared from the Chandigarh residence, appears to be an attempt to strengthen his claim for grant of anticipatory bail in the murder case”.
After a Mohali court had on Tuesday rejected Saini’s anticipatory bail plea in the case, he had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Saini’s counsel A P S Deol said Punjab and Haryana High Court will hear the plea on Friday.
The state government, the spokesperson said, was “fully alive to the security concerns involving Saini, as per the present threat assessment, and will not do anything to endanger his security or that of his family members.”
Saini’s wife’s claim
In the letter to DGP, Saini’s wife had written: “My husband, Mr Sumedh Singh Saini (IPS1982, Punjab; retd 2018), was in the forefront of anti-terrorist action. He also took strong action in corruption and drug related cases. A false mischievous FIR, emanating from a bomb blast on him in 1991, in which a number of police personnel were killed and maimed and in which civilians also lost their lives, and in which he too was wounded, was registered against him in Mohali, Punjab, in 2020. The process of law apropos the same is in progress. He was provided Z+ security. The security also extended to his family. The security to him and to his family has been suddenly withdrawn today. The threat to Mr Saini and to his family from terrorists and criminals is real, and continues to obtain as it obtained.”
Saini’s wife further wrote, “Withdrawal of security to Mr Saini and his family makes them open and soft targets to terrorists and criminals. You are requested to most immediately review your orders.”
The case against Saini
Saini was booked on May 6 for abduction and disappearance of Balwant Singh Multani in 1991 and subsequently in August, section of murder (302 Indian Penal Code) was added in the case after two co-accused policemen turned approver against him, narrating how they learnt that Multani was tortured to death. At the time of the incident in 1991, Saini was Chandigarh SSP. It is alleged that Multani was picked up by police at the behest of Saini in connection with a terrorist attack on him which he believed was planned by Devinderpal Singh Bhullar. The attack had left Saini injured. Bhullar is the convict in Delhi bomb blast case allegedly aimed at targeting then Youth Congress chief M S Biita, who was grievously injured. Bhullar was sentenced to death, but later the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment following a protracted legal battle.