PUNJAB CHIEF Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday defended the questioning of four pilgrims by Punjab Police after they returned from Kartarpur Sahib, saying it was done on the request of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in the interest of national security.
Making a statement in Vidhan Sabha, he said questioning will be done again if needed, and that had the Gurdaspur police failed to cooperate with IB, he would have taken strict action against the concerned police officials. “We are a border state. We work very closely with central agencies. A total of 51,000 pilgrims have visited Kartarpur Sahib. If IB sends a report that some people have to be checked and if our police sends someone to check, then this is necessary. In future if it has to be done we will do it again. If my police officials do not do it I will take action against them,” he said.
Amarinder was responding to the issue raised by AAP MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan just before the presentation of the state Budget. The matter had come up in the House Thursday, leading to an uproar among opposition ranks who condemned the Gurdaspur police for their action and demanded a statement from the CM, who was not present in the House at the time.
Jails and Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had stated in the House that the Gurdaspur Police had acted on the directions of an IB official from Amritsar. AAP MLAs again protested on Friday and got up from their seats after Amarinder justified the questioning, but they were not allowed to speak by the Speaker as the Budget had to be presented.
Speaking to The Indian Express after the day’s proceedings had concluded, AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu said it was “extremely unfortunate” that the CM had chosen to defend the actions of Punjab Police. “Law and order is a state subject and the advisories sent by the IB or any other agencies have to be routed through proper channel, which in this case would have been the police HQs and the home minister, who is the CM as he handles the portfolio. Does Amarinder mean to say that now a middle-level IB official sitting anywhere in Punjab can dictate the actions of the state police,” he asked.
Sandhu added that a very “wrong precedent” was being set in the state which will have ramifications not only at the national level pertaining to centre-state relations but also at the international level. He said that the CM’s statement, coming on the heels of his defence of the DGP’s comments on the Kartarpur Corridor, was condemnable.
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