Thursday 29 October 2020

‘Unidentified’ police that killed two protesters at Behbal Kalan in 2015 was virtually ‘illegal’

- Posted on 21 June 2019

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, June 21: The police that opened fired on Sikh protesters staging dharna peacefully on October 14, 2015 at Behbal against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib earlier on October 12 in the nearby Bargari village was virtually ‘illegal’. It was perhaps for this reason that the first information report in this firing case in which two persons were gunned down was registered against ‘unidentified’ people at Bajakhana police station on October 21, 2015.

This is the inference that can be drawn from the details about the deployment of police at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan as mentioned in the chargesheet submitted in the court. The police had first opened fire on the protesters first at Kotkapura and later at Behbal Kalan a few kms away.

This deployment has been detailed in the chargesheet filed by Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, one of the five members of the special investigating team constituted on the recommendation of Justice Ranjit Singh Commission following detailed discussion in the Assembly in 2018.

It is pertinent to mention here that the four members disagreed with this chargesheet. However, the Capt Amarinder Singh government overruled objections from these four members and legitimised the chargesheet while providing sanction to proceed against police officials named in it.

Sources maintain that this division in the SIT is rooted in chief minister’s office.

The chargesheet has stated that there were no written orders from any branch of the office of the director general of police to depute Inspector General of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal to Kotkapura. He was Ludhiana police commissioner at that time in 2015. The chargesheet has quoted DGP Office communication dated March 14, 2019 no. 6448/Con. SA-1(1). He was on duty and in command from October 12 to 14, 2015 at Kotkapura.

This is the basic issue. He was sent there despite the fact that Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Rohit Chaudhary was camping at Faridkot, the district headquarter. The deployment chart with the office of the Faridkot SSP categorically states that there was  no requisition of the services of  Umranangal or any officer of Ludhiana  district.

Although there was no written order from the office of the DGP, the entire command of the operations at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan was with Umranangal.

The chargesheet states that Umranangal “overnight called at least 182 officers from his place of posting directly who were first deputed at Kotkapura and later at Behbal Kalan in his command under the supervision of ADCP Paramjit Singh Pannu. Charanjit Singh Sharma, the SSP Moga but on leave to attend Bhog ceremony of his father at Hoshiarpur, too was summoned by Umranangal.

Further, “Mr Sumedh Singh Saini (Then DGP) has been examined by the SIT on 25 February 2019 who could not explain how and under what circumstances he deputed Paramraj Singh Umranangal at Kotkapura/Faridkot”.

Saini and Umranangal exchanged “at least 20 calls” between 04.00 AM to 09.23 AM when the firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan happened.

Could Saini depute Umranangal to Kotkapura at his own although another officer senior to Umranangal and that too directly responsible for law and order situation was in Faridkot?

Charanjit was ordered to go to Bargari after protesters had been dispersed at Kotkapura. His statement has been quoted in the chargesheet whereby he states: ‘Keeping in view the tense situation at  the spot, we made phone calls to Sh Paramraj singh Umranangal, Sh Amar Singh Chahal, DIG, Ferozepur range and Sh Sukhwinder Singh Mann, SSP, Faridkot and requested them to send more forces”. He was also receiving calls from Saini since reaching Kotkapura.

Two persons were killed in the firing on October 14 at Behbal but the FIR was registered only on October 21 and that too against “unidentified police”.

Going by the this chargesheet, there were no written order in the officer of the DGP to depute Umranangal who was in command and he further requisitioned force for Kotkapura and Behbal.

A case was registered against unidentified cops on October 21, 2015, under Sections 302, 307 and 34 of the IPC and Sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act at Bajakhana police station in Faridkot district after two persons had died in police firing during an anti-sacrilege protest.

Did Saini act on his own?

 The chargesheet says no.

Here is another para: “On the basis of the investigation conducted in this case, it has been established that there was no provocation from the side of the people  sitting on the dharna. The police action on the early morning of 14-10-2015 at Kotkapura was totally unprovoked. This action, as per investigation , was an outcome of the conspiracy, between certain high profile politicians and police officers of  senior rank in connivance with head of Dera Sacha Sauda and his followers. The investigation reveals in unambiguous terms  the names of Paramraj Singh Umranangal, Sumedh Singh Saini, Mantar Singh Brar (then MLA Kotkapura), Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal”.

However, it needs to  be conclusively proved as from where orders came to Saini to depute Umranangal. Supplementary chargesheet would be filed after completion of further investigation.

The chargesheet has solved the mystery of ‘unidentified police’  whose deployment was without any written order.

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