‘Nobody talks about 40 cops injured in clash that day’
Courtesy : Hindustan Times February 20, 2019 by Ravinder Vasudeva
chandigarh: The arrest of inspector general of police (IGP) Paramraj Singh Umranangal and former Moga senior superintendent of police (SSP) Charanjit Singh Sharma by the special investigation team (SIT) has brought the police firing on antisacrilege protesters at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura under the spotlight again.
And now, some of the ministers in the Amarinder Singh-led government are demanding arrest of the then director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
HT spoke to Saini, who has chosen a stoic silence ever since the incident took place, on the issue. Excerpts:
What exactly happened at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura in 2015?
What happened at Kotkapura has come out in bits and pieces. Much of it is in videos. For over four hours, a large number of protesters were removed from the spot in buses provided by the civil administration. Later, there was a sudden clash between the protestors and the police. Video clips of how the clash started and what happened there are available. About 10 protesters and over 40 policemen were injured. The situation was dealt with by the force and officers present and was soon brought under control. It is still not clear what exactly happened at Behbal Kalan since different versions have been put forth. It is a matter of investigation .
Who ordered firing ?
Use of force at Kotkapura was made on the orders of an executive magistrate. At Behbal Kalan, no executive magistrate was present. I came to learn about it half-an-hour later.
It is alleged that no steps were taken to fix responsibility for two deaths at Behbal Kalan
Immediately after the incident, instructions were given to attend to the injured protesters and policemen. Later, it was learnt that two persons died. An SIT under additional deputy general of police (ADGP) IPS Sahota was formed which registered a case of murder to investigate the matter thoroughly. I have not heard a single word on the 40 policemen who were injured, many of them seriously.
There are allegations that you sent Umranangal to Kotkapura with a heavy force
Force and officers from outside Faridkot were sent since the manpower available with the district police was insufficient to deal with the situation. This is elementary policing. The additional deputy general of police (ADGP, law & order) and the zonal IG were there along with Umranangal and other officers. If motives are attributed and claims made that force from outside the district was sent to attack the protesters. Those making such allegations should reflect and see whether this is in public interest.
You and Badal talked at 2am that day. Is this true?
I spoke not only to the CM and Umranangal, but also to the ADGP (law & order), zonal IG and other officers that night. Is it an offence for a CM and a DGP to talk at night when there is a problem at hand? What should the CM have done? And what should I have done if there was a law and order situation? Should I have switched off my phone? There was a clash. What happened in the clash is there on video. Where is the question of firing on peaceful protesters?
Do you think that the govt is targeting the Badals and you?
I would not like to enter into a slanging match with leaders who are making such allegations. Politicisation of an unfortunate incident in which two persons died is wrong. Instead of making efforts to unravel the truth, attempts are being made to use the incident as a tool by vested interests. With the change of government in March 2017, nothing was done for over a year. After submission of the Ranjit panel report, leaders of various parties tried to distort facts. When the report was made public, no SIT was formed and investigation had not even commenced but political leaders reached their own conclusions.
But gunshots can be heard in the Kotkapura videos
The video itself will answer your question whether there was any firing on peaceful protesters. Concoction of a fairy tale that police fired on peaceful protestors is morally and ethically wrong and is not in the state’s interest. First, a fairy tale is created and then efforts are made to “prove” it.
Are you pointing fingers at Capt?
Please draw your own conclusions.
Is your petition in the City Centre scam a pre-emptive move to put pressure on the CM?
The Ludhiana City Centre is a different issue. Loss of over ₹1,500 crore was caused to the state exchequer and the government machinery was abused to file a cancellation report in the pending case. This is legally and morally wrong. As far as incriminating material is concerned, I request you to omit this question.
Why did you term Umranangal’s arrest a political move?
What else is it? Demand for his arrest was raised even before investigation started and even before it was decided whether the case will be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation or the SIT. In over three years and in two governments.
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