Wednesday, May 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bhullar submits resignation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Punjab Irrigation Minister, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar who, it is alleged, was involved in the murder of senior Akali leader Gurdial Singh and six others in Bhikhiwind, near Amritsar, on May 19, today tendered his resignation to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Gurdial Singh had contested against Mr Bhullar from the Valtoha Assembly constituency and had lost by a margin of 4,945 votes.

Mr Bhullar, who was away this morning to Sadhwan village, near Kot Kapura, to attend the bhog ceremony of Mrs Pardhan Kaur, widow of Giani Zail Singh, reached here in the afternoon. He met the Chief Minister briefly to submit his resignation.

Immediately after submitting his resignation Mr Bhullar told The Tribune that he had quit to uphold the highest democratic traditions and value-based politics. “I am not involved in the murder of the Akali leader and his associates. All charges against me are politically motivated and concocted by Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a close relation of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. But since the Opposition leader, Mr Badal, and some of his political associates have dragged my name into this controversy, I have decided to resign”, he added.

He said he would fully cooperate with the inquiries to be conducted in this case.

He said it was a known fact that Mr Kairon had played a pivotal role in making up the story for the registration of the murder case. As Mr Kairon wanted to “fix me, he tutored relations of the deceased to name me in the FIR”. He said he was not aware yet whether his name had been included in the case or not.

Regarding his political enmity with Mr Kairon and members of his family, Mr Bhullar said that his son, Mr Sukhpal Singh was any eyewitness in a murder case which was registered against Mr Kairon’s son, Mr Gurpartap Singh, alias Guddu, at Bhikhiwind during the campaign of the Assembly elections held in February. Mr Bhullar said that Guddu had fired at one of his son’s friends, Peter. However, Peter escaped unhurt but the shot hit a tea vendor who was killed on the spot.

Mr Bhullar alleged that Mr Kairon had been waiting for an opportunity since February this year to “settle old scores with me”. Now he had got the opportunity and “put pressure on family members of the deceased to name me in the case”, he added. He said that it was not very difficult to understand why Mr Badal had given political colour and shape to this incident. Mr Badal was a close relative of Mr Kairon and he was supporting his political and personal cause in the Majha belt.

He said there was long-standing enmity between Mr Gurdial Singh and Mr Bakhshish Singh, one of the main accused in the murder case. That enmity ultimately turned into a big feud resulting in seven murders.

At one time Mr Bhullar and Mr Kairon were fast friends and Gurdial Singh was also their associate. However, a split between Mr Bhullar and Mr Kairon took place shortly before the 1997 elections when Mr Kairon turned to the Shiromani Akali Dal as his son, Mr Adesh Partap Singh, who was the son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, got the SAD ticket from Patti. Mr Bhullar said that Mr Kairon went out of the way to ensure his defeat in the 1997 Assembly elections. “I lost that election by a margin of about 1,000 votes”. Later, with the help of the Badal government, Mr Kairon tried his best to involve “my active supporters in false cases to force them to leave me.” 


Amarinder says no
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
As expected, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has rejected the resignation of the Irrigation Minister, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar. In a brief statement, the Chief Minister said he had asked Mr Bhullar to continue as Minister.


Badal pooh-poohs CM’s claims
Bhullar’s ‘involvement’ in Akali leader’s murder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today expressed surprise and disbelief over the statement of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, exonerating the Minister of Irrigation, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, of any involvement in the murder of Akali leader Gurdial Singh at Bhikhiwind on Sunday besides claiming that the murder was the result of personal enmity.

In a statement released through the party office here this afternoon, the Akali leader said “the Chief Minister’s statement is a forceful vindication of our stand that no justice can be expected from an inquiry conducted by the state government agencies as they are already under instructions from the Chief Minister to shield the guilty minister.”

Mr Badal also described as immature and ridiculous the Chief Minister’s claim that he believed Mr Bhullar to be innocent because he was personally known to him (the Chief Minister.)

The Akali leader recalled that during his own tenure as Chief Minister, he had to order similar inquiries into several cases, like the Bhaniara case.

He claimed that whenever he was approached by the media for his comments, he had always maintained that as head of the government, his words could influence an independent and fair probe, and he, therefore, refrained making premature comments.

As such, he said, he was stunned by the height of irresponsibility displayed by Capt Amarinder Singh in pronouncing a judgement on the issue even before his own investigating agencies were yet to begin a probe into the matter.

“Does he not realise that apart from his moral responsibility in the matter, he also has a constitutional obligation to remain neutral and aloof in the case so that the probe could be conducted in a free and fair atmosphere. And if the Chief Minister is sure about his facts, would he like to make an offer to stand in the witness box during the trial?” The statement, Mr Badal said, was an example of brazen political interference in the process of law.

He asked whether Capt Amarinder Singh, as head of the government, had already announced his judgement on the issue, and, if so, what the state investigating agencies be inquiring into. Mr Badal said that the Chief Minister’s announcement had clearly made the exercise of investigation a meaningless one.

“Capt Amarinder Singh has, in fact, sent a clear signal and directive to his administration that it is not to pursue the leads clearly implicating Mr Bhullar. It is clear now that the state machinery is being used merely to promote the personal and political interests of the Chief Minister,” Mr Badal said.

“His stand is proof that the police is under his direct instructions to shield the guilty minister”. Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had lowered the dignity of the office he held.Back

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