Punjab to approach EC on police officer’s transfer

Chandigarh: Upset with the decision of the Election Commission (EC) which ordered the transfer of a senior police officer investigating a sensitive matter, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday termed it as a “biased order”.

The Chief Minister also said the Punjab government has decided to approach the EC to seek a review of the decision.

The EC had on Monday ordered the transfer of inspector general (IG) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh following a complaint made against the officer by the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Singh, who was IG-border range, has been posted as IG-counter intelligence at Amritsar.

The EC has also directed the Punjab Chief Secretary to relieve Singh from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) looking into the police firing incident of October 2015 in Behbal Kalan village of Faridkot district following protests against sacrilege cases during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government at that time.

The EC has asked the state government not to assign any election related work to the IG.

The SAD had complained to the Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) pointing out that the IG had made political statements regarding the SIT probe in an interview last month.

The SIT is investigating the firing incident linked to the sacrilege cases in which top SAD leaders, including former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, and police officers during the SAD regime have been questioned.

“The Chief Minister had found the EC order, issued in response to a complaint by an Akali Dal leader, to be tantamount to being direct interference in the investigations into the Bargari firing incident and had decided to ask the Election Commission to reconsider the matter in the interest of justice and Constitutional propriety,” a spokesperson of the Chief Minister said here on Tuesday.

“The Akalis had been trying unsuccessfully to scuttle the investigations into the sacrilege and subsequent firing cases that took place during their tenure, and were now resorting to desperate measures to save their skin,” Amarinder said in a statement here.

He said: “The entire premise of the EC order was based on a flimsy complaint, which actually amounted to admission of guilt by the complainant. It was obvious that the complainant was running scared at the thought of exposure by the SIT, and had taken refuge in the SAD alliance with the BJP.”

“Cognizant of the pathetic position of the SAD in Punjab, where the party was facing another ignominious defeat, the BJP was trying to save it at any cost,” Amarinder added.

He said that “the brazen nexus between the BJP-SAD and EC was manifest in the latter’s spate of recent orders and directives that were clearly skewed against the Congress, particularly in the states ruled by it”.

“My government’s sole intention in setting up the SIT, of which the IG was a key member and instrumental in the SIT’s aggressive investigations, was to bring the culprits to book and take the probe in the 2015 case to its logical conclusion,” Amarinder added.

The SIT had been carrying out its investigations as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, on a civil writ petition and their report was placed before the High Court, which had reposed full faith in the investigations and had declined to monitor the same, he pointed out.

“The investigations undertaken by the SIT were of the nature of a statutory requirement under the CrPC, in which even courts do not interfere. The EC was simply not authorised to interfere in such a matter,” Amarinder said.

The Chief Minister said the Akalis wanted to prevent him and his government from bringing justice to the innocent victims of the 101 cases of sacrilege that had occurred in the state between 2015 and March 2017.

He said that he was committed to ensuring that justice is delivered to the families of the two dead victims and 17 others injured, including two maimed for life.

The Chief Minister urged the EC “not to allow its integrity to be compromised in such manner by the political vested interests of the ruling BJP and its allies, including SAD.

“People have faith in the EC institution but such actions are bound to destroy their trust,” he added.