Updated: May 6, 2022 10:18:52 pm
The continuing political battle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intensified Friday over the arrest of Delhi BJP spokesman Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga from his Delhi house by a Punjab police team, with the police of three states – Punjab, Haryana and Delhi – getting embroiled in the worsening AAP-BJP conflict.
While the BJP rules the Centre and Haryana, the AAP is in power in Punjab. Although the Delhi government is led by the Arvind Kejriwal-headed AAP, the Delhi police reports to the Union home ministry.
Bagga was booked by the Punjab police’s cyber crime unit on April 1 for allegedly making inflammatory speeches. The Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government in Punjab recently transferred the cyber crime unit’s head G Nageswara Rao and subsequently transferred the Bagga case to the Mohali police. A team of 50 police personnel was sent to arrest Bagga from his West Delhi house on Friday morning. The entire day saw a tussle between the governments and police forces of Punjab, Delhi and Haryana amid an escalating face-off between the BJP and the AAP.
The Punjab police personnel bringing Bagga to Mohali were intercepted by their Haryana counterparts at Kurukshetra, which prompted the Mann government to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the Haryana police’s move. The day also saw the Delhi police registering an FIR against the Punjab police for allegedly abducting and assaulting Bagga. The Punjab government did not get relief from the High Court and Bagga returned to Delhi by the evening.
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While senior Punjab government officials remained silent on the matter, the state AAP’s spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang said the Punjab police had given notices to Bagga five times asking him to appear before them in the case, but he did not comply. He said, “Bagga has always given inflammatory and irresponsible statements in Punjab to disturb peace and harmony in the state. Punjab police arrested him following a legal process. BJP has interfered in Punjab police’s functioning. But we will not tolerate it. Punjab police will take action against anti-social elements and such people and they will be punished as per the law.”
Following its resounding victory in the recent Punjab Assembly polls, the AAP has been making attempts to make inroads in the BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, and Uttarakhand, among other states.
Most of the AAP leaders also maintained a silence over the Bagga episode, even as the BJP hit out at the AAP for allegedly using the Punjab police for its “political vendetta”. The saffron party blamed Delhi CM Kejriwal for “misusing Punjab police for settling political scores”.
There were concerns in the Punjab police circles over the state’s cops who were booked by the Delhi police on kidnapping and assault charges. “We do not know what will happen to their careers. We are just waiting and watching. It is like exchange of political fire and we are stuck in it,” an officer said on condition of anonymity.
Attacking CM Mann, the Punjab Congress’s chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said, “The Delhi police registering a kidnapping case against Punjab police personnel is most unfortunate and completely avoidable. This is the saddest day for Punjab police that due to the inexperience of our CM Bhagwant Mann who lets Arvind Kejriwal have his dictatorial way, our decorated cops were held at Kurukshetra as ‘accused’ for ‘kidnapping’”.
Warring charged that the AAP was trying to “outdo” the BJP in “misusing” police in settling scores with political opponents. He said, “Punjab Police, which is known for its courage, valour and sacrifice was pushed into an awkward situation, just for satisfying the ego of ‘one person’ (Kejriwal) as he wanted someone (Bagga), who is critical of him, behind the bars”.
“This is extreme intolerance, whether arresting Bagga or Jignesh Mevani or registering a case against Alka Lamba or Dr Kumar Vishwas and we condemn it all”, the Punab Congress president said, adding, “BJP is reaping the whirlwind. It started to misuse the police. Now its B-team, the Aam Aadmi Party is replicating the same formula against its opponents. In the process ‘institution of police’ has been subverted”.
Other Congress leaders also echoed Warring’s charges. Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu tweeted, “Tajinder Bagga could be from a different party, one could have ideological differences. But Political vendetta, of @ArvindKejriwal & @BhagwantMann, to settle personal scores through Punjab police is a cardinal sin… Stop tarnishing the image of Punjab Police by Politicising it…”
Another Opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)’s president Sukhbir Singh Badal also went after the AAP government, charging that “Mann had sublet the police force to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal to help the latter in settling his petty personal scores”.
Badal asked Mann not to become a “puppet” in Kejriwal’s hands, saying “The CM should take review meetings of the law and order situation as well as ensure those responsible for flaring communal tensions in the recent Patiala clash are brought to task instead of keeping himself busy by deputing Punjab Police teams to Delhi to arrest opponents of AAP”.
The SAD chief charged that the recent developments had also “removed all doubts that Kejriwal was treating Punjab as a colony to extend his political empire”. “The chief minister of Punjab has virtually become a ‘subedar’ of the Delhi Durbar. All postings and transfers of officers are done from Delhi. The Punjab government has virtually become a subsidiary of the Delhi government. The recent agreement between the two governments has paved the way for complete administrative control of Punjab by Delhi,” he alleged.
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