Wednesday, January 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kainthla panel indicts Virbhadra, MLAs
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 8
The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet has decided to proceed in accordance with law against the CLP leader and former Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, who has been “vicariously” held reponsible by the Kainthla Commission for incidents of lawlessness here between March 3 and March 12 in 1998 and “forcing” Independent MLA Ramesh Dhwala to support the Congress to form a government in the state when a hung Assembly emerged following a snap poll.

The commission has also indicted five Congress MLAs Mr Chander Kumar, Mr G.S. Bali, Mr Harsh Mahajan, Ms Viplove Thakur and Ms Asha Kumari for leading a mob which indulged in criminal offences and violent incidents on March 5 and March 6 and manhandled BJP legislators Baldev Sharma, Rikhi Ram Kaundal, Rakesh Pathania, Narendera Bragta and Rajan Sushant in a bid to “capture” Mr Dhwala so as to install a Congress government.

The one-man commission headed by a retired Sessions Judge, Mr H.D. Kainthla, which was appointed on December 10, 1999, by the BJP-HVC combine government to inquire into these incidents which had taken place about 21 months earlier, submitted its report to the government last week and was accepted today by the Cabinet which met here under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal.

Unprecedently, four Cabinet ministers — Mr Kishori Lal, Mr J.P. Nadda, Mr Ramesh Dhwala and Mr Mansa Ram — this afternoon released the report to newspersons and briefed them about the decisions of the Cabinet. The Chief Secretary, Mr Harsh Gupta, and other senior officers were also present.

Mr Kishori Lal said the Cabinet had accepted the findings of the commission. But the Cabinet did not straightaway accept the commission exonerating police officials involved in the incidents and had decided to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to examine the matter. Other members of the committee were the Secretaries for Home, Law and the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister.

The committee had been asked to submit its report at the earliest and examine the general observations of the commission.

The commission had said Mr Virbhadra Singh had to own and share acts of criminal character committed by Congressmen at different places.

Exonerating the police officials, the commission said they themselves had not been found to have acted in a pro-active manner or in actual acts of assistance or abetment of the offences indulged in by the Congressmen.

The commission said apart from committing criminal acts, the Congress members blocked roads at many places to prevent Mr Dhwala from being taken to his destination and diverted him to Mr Virbhadra Singh’s residence.

The windscreen of Mr Dhwala’s vehicle was also smashed. He became the deciding factor to get the magical figure of 33 seats for a simple majority in the Assembly. Both parties tried to woo Mr Dhwala to tilt scales in their favour. Road fights took place at a few places to “capture” him. He was first taken by the Congress to the residence of Mr Virbhadra Singh where he was brainwashed and taken to the Governor early next morning. He was sworn as a minister in the evening and was lodged at “Oakover” under a heavy security cover.

After enjoying 18 days of prison-like hospitality, Mr Dhwala walked out of the Congress camp and extended support to the BJP to enable Prof Dhumal to form his government.

The commission observed that all eight respondents of the Congress had denied these allegations.

Matter sub-judice, says Virbhadra

Reacting sharply to the report of the Kainthla Commission against him, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh described it as “totally baseless, frivolous and politically motivated”.

He said the government had appointed its own man as the commission of inquiry and this sort of report was expected.Back

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