Saturday, November 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CBI interrogates Bibi
Kamaljit to challenge grant of bail
From R. Suryamurthy and Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 17 — Dressed in her traditional attire and flanked by her supporters, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, appeared before the Central Bureau of Investigation 10 minutes before the deadline set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court expired.

Minutes after her appearance at the CBI headquarters in the Capital, Bibi Jagir Kaur, prime accused in the murder of her daughter Harpreet Kaur, was whisked away to the agency’s special investigation unit office, where she was interrogated for about two hours and 45 minutes.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune in Punjab Bhavan, where she is staying, Bibi Jagir Kaur said “I was interrogated by four persons, including a woman officer.”

“I informed them the facts of the case, which were in my knowledge. I would cooperate with the investigating agency fully. Whatever is asked by them, which is within the legal purview, I would answer them to the best of my knowledge,” the SGPC chief said, who looked quite confident after the interrogation.

The four-member interrogation team was headed by DSP Anurag Garg and the lone female officer in the team was Ms C. Sundaram.

The SGPC chief, who arrived in the Capital late last night from Chandigarh, said she would appear before the CBI as and when she was called by the agency.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said she had full faith in the legal system of the country and would fight the legal battle to its logical conclusion.

She, however, parried questions on quitting her post as the SGPC president and refused to comment on whether she would support Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi or contest the SGPC poll, as an Independent or otherwise.

Reports in The Tribune from Aliwal (Ludhiana) stated the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had indicated that the issue of nominating party candidate for the SGPC poll, scheduled for November 30, would be decided at the political affairs committee of the party scheduled to be held within three days.

The report said Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi could be nominated as the party’s candidate for the poll.

The Punjab Chief Minister had a telephonic conversation with the SGPC chief today during the course of her interview with The Tribune.

The talks, which lasted for about a minute, basically related to her appearance before the CBI.

Meanwhile, the CBI counsel, Mr R.M. Tiwari, said the agency was planning to move the apex court against the bail granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The CBI sources said custodial interrogation of the SGPC chief was “very vital”.

Kamaljit Singh, who claims to be the husband of Harpreet Kaur, today said he would challenge the anticipatory bail granted by the high court.

Kamaljit’s counsel, Ms Indu Malhotra, said the appeal was in the process of being drafted and would be filed in the apex court either tomorrow or on Monday.

“We are questioning the basis on which the high court granted Bibi Jagir Kaur anticipatory bail. The high court could at best have granted a conditional anticipatory bail to facilitate her appearance before the CBI for interrogation,” Ms Malhotra said.

Bibi Jagir Kaur was granted anticipatory bail by the high court on November 15, but directed her to appear before the CBI in Delhi on November 17. A Patiala court had rejected her anticipatory bail plea on November 13.

Kamaljeet, on whose petition a CBI probe was ordered into Harpreet’s death, had claimed he married the girl and fathered her child which was allegedly aborted.

The agency in its FIR had named seven persons, including Bibi Jagir Kaur, for involvement in the mysterious death of Harpreet Kaur. But in the amended FIR on November 13, the CBI charged them with murder of the 19-year-old girl. The other six accused are in custody.

The sources said the preliminary investigations had shown the involvement of the SGPC chief was made out in all the incidents leading to the death of her daughter. These incidents include the shifting of Harpreet to Phagwara on March 19, her detention in Jasdil Mansion from March 19 to April 8, bringing her back to the mansion on April 10 and her subsequent death on the night of April 20.

Even the trial court had agreed that a prima facie case under Sections 213 and 302 of the IPC was made out against the SGPC chief and the judge had stated that the manner in which the body of Harpreet Kaur was consigned to flames without getting a post-mortem examination and lifting of the last remains of the girl from the graveyard removed all possible doubts regarding her involvement.

The Special CBI Judge had held custodial interrogation was certainly required and if the accused was given bail before arrest, it would hamper investigation beyond repair.

Apart from Section 302 of the IPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur has been charged with Section 120-B read with Sections 304, 344, 313, and 201 of the IPC.

The CBI said the SGPC chief was the chief conspirator and every chain of incident leading to the death of Harpreet took place at her behest.

Harpreet Kaur was reported by her family members to have died after a “serious bout of food poisoning.” However, the fact that her body was cremated without any post-mortem examination or an inquiry by the local police raised suspicion about the actual cause of her death.


Probe CM’s role: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 17 — The Punjab Congress today demanded that the CBI should look into the role of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the disposal of Harpreet’s body under suspicious circumstances.

The Chief Minister was present at the time of the cremation of the SGPC President’s daughter, the Punjab Congress President, Capt Amarinder Singh said.

Contrary to Sikh tradition, the ashes of Bibi’s daughter was immersed in the river within hours of her cremation. Moreover, efforts were made to “clean up” the cremation site.

Capt Amarinder Singh demanded that the Chief Minister should be questioned by the CBI and charges framed under relevant sections for his alleged role in trying to destroy evidence. He alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister had influenced the local police and no postmortem was performed on the body of the young girl.

The General Secretary of the Punjab PCC, Mr Gurmit Singh Sodhi, said the developments in the Jagir Kaur case should the SAD had criminalised politics.

Capt Amarinder Singh said over the past two years there had been increased cases of lawlessness in which close relatives of senior SAD leaders were involved.


Crucial SAD meeting on Nov 21
To decide Jagir Kaur’s fate
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Nov 17 — The much-awaited important meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will be held here on November 21 at 4 p.m. at the residence of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to decide the fate of the SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Mr Badal told TNS in his office today that all members of the PAC, including Bibi Jagir Kaur, had been invited to the meeting. The meeting is likely to be stormy since most of the members favour a new President of the SGPC in place of Bibi Jagir Kaur.

One of the senior members of the PAC, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who is also the Finance Minister, has already made his views public with regard to Bibi Jagir Kaur. He has stated twice in the past one week that she should have stepped down from the presidentship immediately after the registration of a case against her. Bibi Jagir Kaur had hit back at Capt Kanwaljit Singh by dismissing his statement with the words “Bathere lokin boldeyai” (so many people say so many things). Other senior leaders of the SAD say in private that her continuation in office is a big embarrassment not only to the SAD but also to the Sikhs by and large.

They also say that Bibi Jagir Kaur should have submitted her resignation to the party President, Mr Badal, before leaving for Delhi to appear before the CBI. The dignity of the office of President is required to be maintained by one and all, say Akali leaders. Never in the 75-year-old history of the SGPC has its President has appeared before any investigating police agency in a criminal case of the nature faced by Bibi Jagir Kaur. However, several cases of a political nature in connection with the “dharm yudh” or the Punjabi Suba morcha had been registered against SGPC chiefs from time to time.

The issue of holding the PAC meeting had been hanging fire since the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, made a statement a few weeks ago that such a meeting would be held soon to take up the Jagir Kaur issue. However, the meeting continued to be delayed. Bibi Jagir Kaur is facing a CBI inquiry in connection with the death of her daughter, Harpreet Kaur, in April this year. On directions given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, she appeared before the CBI in Delhi today.

Mr Badal refused to reveal his mind when asked who would replace Bibi Jagir Kaur. He said a decision would be taken on the meeting of the PAC and he would not say anything in this connection till the meeting was held. He did not comment on media reports that Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi would be the likely choice for the SGPC presidentship, the election to which is scheduled to be held on November 30. “I met Mr Talwandi yesterday and he is a very respected leader of the party”, said Mr Badal. It was a routine meeting, he added.

The way Mr Talwandi has been moving around in the past days, it is obvious that he is one of the important candidates for the Presidentship. At a function in Punjab Raj Bhavan two weeks ago, Mr Talwandi expressed his willingness to be the SGPC chief. He had stated that he had the requisite experience for this office as well as the guts to run this most important institution.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar does not appear to be interested in the race, but his name has been floated by certain loyalists of Mr Badal. He is one of the co-opted members of the SGPC and is at present working as secretary of the SAD and also Officer on Special Duty in the office of the Chief Minister. He mainly looks after party work.

Mr Balbir Singh Pannu is also in the race. In fact, he was a candidate even when Bibi Jagir Kaur was made President last year replacing Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. He belongs to the camp of the Punjab Cooperation Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura. Another name doing the rounds is that of Mr Sucha Singh Langah. He is the Public Works Minister and also a member of the SGPC. He is known to be a staunch loyalist of Mr Badal from the Majha area.

Political observers say Mr Badal keeps his cards close to his chest till the end. He (Mr Badal) knows that at the PAC meeting participants, as usual, will authorise him to name the candidate for the presidentship and he would be able to select a candidate of his choice. It is significant to mention here that Mr Badal has not given any indication about replacing Bibi Jagir Kaur till date. The general elections of the SGPC are scheduled to be held next year in November. This factor will have to be kept in mind by Mr Badal while selecting the candidate.

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