Sunday 25 October 2020

Transfer of IGP Kunwar Partap could hit probe into sensitive sacrilege related cases in Punjab

- Posted on 08 April 2019

Chandigarh, April 8: The transfer of Punjab Inspector General of Police Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh as member of the Special Investigating Team is likely to hit probe into sensitive sacrilege related cases. He has been shifted on the complaint of the Akali Dal.

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, it seems, has again played the wrong card as it might be perceived by the voters associated with Panthic domain as deliberate attempt to sabotage the investigations. These incidents happened in 2015 when in power was the Akali Dal government headed by Parkash Singh Badal in which Sukhbir was the Deputy Chief Minister incharge of home department. These incidents had triggered wrath among the Sikhs against Badals that was one of the factors that reduced the Akali Dal tally to 15 in 2017 Assembly elections. The sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib took place in Bargari in October 2015 leading to protests. The police opened fire on protesters first at Kotkapura and later the same day at Behbal Kalan near Bargari killing two of them.

Of course, Kunwar Vijay Partap is not the only member of the SIT that is headed by his senior Additional DGP Prabodh Kumar. The team includes several other police officers.

However, the Akali Dal had targeted only this officer in the complaint filed by party’s Rajya  Sabha member Naresh Gujral on which the Election Commission has taken the action.

The Election Commission has taken strong note of certain political comments made by the officer concerned during interview with a TV channel that have been construed as ‘motivated’. The EC states, “It has also been observed that the contents of part of the interview has political connotations and has the potential to show certain political leaders in poor light. The officer also mentioned that name of the leaders of SAD which is clearly in violation of the provision of model code of conduct”.

One has to go into the details about the arrest of IGP Paramraj Singh Umranangal to understand the working of the SIT. He was arrested after a meeting addressed by the state police chief Dinkar Gupta in the police headquarters.

Prabodh Kumar is learnt to have reacted strongly to the arrest saying, “How can you arrest him”.

Kunwar Partap replied, “You can release him”.

The DGP did not interfere when he was told about the arrest.

One set of officers in the SIT are against proceeding against former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini while another set is perceived to be close to Sukhbir. Saini has been questioned by the SIT.

It is because of this situation that the probe might get hit at least for the time being.

It may be mentioned that this issue created political storm after Justice Ranjit Singh Commission constituted by Capt Amarinder Singh government submitted its report recommending further probe that led to the constitution of SIT. The Badals had boycotted this commission alleging it was politically motivated probe.

However, the Badals had consigned to the dustbin the report of Justice Jora Singh into the same issue that was assigned this probe earlier.

The dharna at Bargari last year demanding action against culprits of sacrilege and police firing on protesters witnessed unprecedented mobilisation of Sikhs in recent years. It is a different matter that the leadership leading the Bargari protest failed miserably to channelize this Sikh sentiment.

The anger in the Panthic domain has not subsided even after the passage of time.

The Akali Dal can claim victory in the transfer of Kunwar Vijay Partap but it has the potential to boomerang in the Panthic domain. The Akali Dal is not an ordinary political party and the issue of sacrilege can’t be sidestepped as even the Sikh institutions like Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee have been damaged while defending political interests of the party on this issue.

It is not a simple issue of transfer of a police officer but has wider religio-political ramifications. The issue of sacrilege is rooted in the Akali Dal politics of that period of seeking covert support of Dera Sacha Sauda that had been ostracised by Akal Takht in 2007 on the blasphemy charge.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who is perceived to have slowed down on this issue, too may feel the heat in the process.

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