Parkash Singh Badal was aware of the police action in Kothapura: Ranjit Singh Commission report

Chandigarh: The then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was “aware” of the proposed action of the police to disperse the protesters at Kotkapura in Faridkot by using force, according to the findings of Justice Ranjit Singh Commission which probed sacrilege incidents.

The one-man commission, the report of which was tabled in the state Assembly on Monday, also held the police responsible for the using force at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan, describing it as “unprovoked, unwarranted and uncalled” for. The report held that the police opened fire at Behbal Kalan in which two persons were killed, “without any warning and without taking permission from civil authorities”.

The commission was formed by the Congress government to investigate the various incidents of sacrilege of the religious texts including at village Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari and firing incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in 2015. In an action taken, a report of the government on the recommendations of the commission, the state government has issued show cause notices to several senior police officials including the then Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini (now retired) and then ADGP Law and Order Rohit Chaudhary.

The chief secretary has also been directed to take appropriate disciplinary action against all civil officials as per recommendations of the commission within 90 days, as per action taken report.

Naming former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the commission in its supplementary report submitted on 16 August, said, “earlier the commission had in its report observed that the facts might indicate the involvement of the CMO, but it is now clear that the Chief Minister and the CMO were apparently kept in the loop about the action proposed by the police and the action finally taken at Kotkapura”.

In the supplementary report, the commission noted, “there is sufficient material available on record in the form of telephone calls between the Deputy Commissioner, Mantar Singh Brar MLA, Gagandeep Brar (the then Principal secretary to CM)…The chain is thus complete and clear that the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was not only in touch with district administration but was in touch with DGP as well and was quite aware of the situation developing at Kotkapura and also about proposed action by police.”

Referring to the supplementary report, the government in its action taken report said the recommendations of the commission had been accepted, saying it was decided to refer the matter to CBI, the investigation agency shall also ascertain whether any act of commission or omission was committed by any other person. Significantly, the Shiromani Akali Dal has already rejected the commission report and accused the commission of acting as ‘Congress Sarkari Commission’.

The commission had dealt with the incidents of sacrilege at village Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari, Gurusar and Mallke. Besides it also probed incidents of sacrilege in districts SAS Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Rupnagar and Patiala, SBS Nagar (Nawanshahr), Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Bathinda, Barnala, Faridkot, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Mansa, Moga, Sangrur, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Tarn Taran.

The government had already announced to hand over the probe into Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing to the CBI. Earlier, when the report was tabled in the Assembly on Monday, the Akalis staged a walk out.