April 17, 2021 12:56:28 am
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu Friday hit out at his own party’s government saying people in Punjab were feeling cheated over “inaction” in the cases related to desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and the subsequent police firing in 2015. He, however, added that his fight is against the system, “which is failing us” and “is not personal”.
“In 2017, a government was removed and another appointed in its place on two big issues. These issues pertained to justice in cases of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and punishment to those who dealt with ‘chitta’ (drugs) in the state and spoilt our youth. Till today people of Punjab are awaiting justice and if you ask me truthfully, they have given up all hope,” said Sidhu.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who was speaking to mediapersons at his residence in Patiala, said there were several questions for which no answers are forthcoming.
Questioning the “intent” of the state government behind not making the STF’s report on drug smuggling and the SIT’s report on Kotkapura firing public, Sidhu asked why no action was taken when the culprits stood identified in both the reports.
Referring to the Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission of Inquiry, which was earlier set up by the Congress government to probe the incidents, Sidhu, a former Punjab minister, said the culprits were named and the cognizable offence against them was spelled out.
“Why has no one been named in the FIR in police firing in Kotkapura when (Justice Ranjit Singh Commission of Inquiry) made it clear that the then DGP was in touch with the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at 2:30 in the night taking orders,” asked Sidhu. “When the crime and those involved in it have been identified, then why no action? Why no chargesheet?”.
He said the previous SAD-BJP government had not named anybody in the FIR lodged into the 2015 police firing that left two youth dead. The present government too did not name anyone, Sidhu said hinting that it may have been done with the aim to save those who were guilty even though every child of Punjab knows who ordered the firing and who were the police officials involved.
“What was the intent that you did not lay a solid foundation of the case? The FIR is the foundation of any case, any lawyer will tell you. But here, the foundation was weak and everything was in the air. When there is no foundation, you may hire top lawyers, what can they do? How will you build the case,” Sidhu asked.
“If names are included in an FIR on cognisable offence, then an arrest is a must. There is no other alternative. However, when you do not name anyone in the FIR and it is registered against unknown persons then no one can be arrested and the intent is clear,” he said, adding the “SIT (special investigation team) in Punjab means ‘sit down’”.
Sidhu added that it was inconceivable that a state government, which had been hiring lawyers such as Dushyant Dave, Mukul Rohtagi and P Chidambaran for its court cases, could not make the Advocate General of the state appear in a case related to desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.
He reiterated that the Punjab Police’s SIT probe report into the police firing at people protesting in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan against incidents of sacrilege be made public.
Sidhu had raised the demand a few days ago during his visit to Gurdwara Burj Jawahar Singh Wala in Faridkot district, from where a copy of the Sikh holy book was stolen in 2015, leading to protests.
The Amritsar East MLA had raised the demand days after the Punjab and Haryana High Court reportedly quashed the probe report by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by senior IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, and asked the state government to set up a new SIT without Singh.
Sidhu said that the state government had formed an STF under a capable officer who was called from outside state and crores were spent in carrying out investigations into the drug trade in Punjab.
“The report containing names of the accused was submitted in the high court. When some people approached the court over delay in taking action on the report, the court returned the report to the state government for further action. However the government kept saying that the report had not been read as yet. Thousands of mothers lost their sons to the drug menace. Was the issue not important for the government to at least read the report and take action,” he asked.
Sidhu said it was hard to digest the fact that the government has not read the report even after it was submitted to it. “The government is still sitting on that report. I want to ask why? What is the reason?”
He went on to say that if the government “does not want to read the report, it should at least read what alleged drug smugglers Jagdish Bhola and Bittu Aulakh had to say on the issue.” “Why don’t you want to face the truth? Why don’t you want to read the report? This is why the people have lost faith in you,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.