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Sidhu questions his govt’s probe into 2015 firing incident

Chandigarh:  In a veiled attack apparently aimed at the Congress government in Punjab, former Cabinet minister and party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday demanded to make the report of the SIT of Punjab Police probing the sacrilege incidents of 2015 and the subsequent police firing public.

Two persons were killed and many others were injured after the police under the previous SAD-BJP government resorted to unprovoked firing on hundreds of people protesting the alleged desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Bargari village in Faridkot district in 2015.

Blaming the government for ‘weak’ investigation into the cases, Sidhu, who visited the Burj Jawahar Singh gurdwara, the epicentre of the sacrilege incidents in Bargari, on the occasion of Baisakhi on Tuesday, said that just like the tabling of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report in the Assembly, the report prepared by the head of the Special Investigation Team, Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, should also be made public.

After paying obeisance at the gurdwara, Sidhu said that people had high hopes that the guilty of the Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan firing cases would be brought to book.

Without mincing words, he said: “More law, less justice… Justice delayed is justice denied.”

The Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, in its report, had said that it was only a fact-finding report and further investigations were required.

Subsequently, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had picked the SIT team led by Inspector General Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh for the probe.

Last week, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed the SIT probe into the Kotkapur firing case and directed the state to constitute a new SIT without Vijay Pratap Singh.

The directions were passed by the bench of Justice Rajbir Sherawat, which was hearing a plea filed by Gurdeep Singh, former police officer at Kotkapura, and another official who had approached the court seeking directions to remove the IPS officer from the investigation team.

In a related development, after the high court order, the Chief Minister had refused to accept the resignation letter of Vijay Pratap Singh seeking premature retirement from service.

Declining the voluntary retirement plea of Vijay Pratap Singh, who is currently heading the SITs probing the Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan firing cases, the Chief Minister said that he was a highly competent and efficient officer whose services were needed in the border state, especially at a time when Punjab is faced with various internal and external security threats.

The state needs the expertise and experience of the officer, who has contributed exceptional service to Punjab Police in various important positions, the Chief Minister said, describing Vijay Pratap Singh as a skilled, capable and courageous officer with an exemplary track record.

Referring to media reports on the high court’s order in the Kotakpura case probe, the Chief Minister pointed out that he had already made it clear that any decision of the court that seeks to remove Vijay Pratap Singh as the SIT chief or to quash the investigations in the case would be challenged by his government in the Supreme Court.

The officer and his team have done an excellent job of expeditiously investigating the Kotakpura case, which the Akalis had tried hard to stall for the past four years, Amarinder Singh said, adding that the probe will be taken to its logical conclusion under the guidance and supervision of the able officer himself.

The SIT has so far filed the charge sheet for six persons in connection with the case, including then Kotkapura Akali MLA Mantar Singh Brar.

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