Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 30
Less than three years after the police fired at Sikh activists protesting peacefully at Kotkapura against the incidents of sacrilege, Justice Ranjit Singh Commission has held the then Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini responsible for the action.
The Commission has also indicted IG Paramjit Singh Umranangal, DIG Amar Singh Chahal and three SSPs — SS Mann, Charanjit Sharma, Raghbir Singh — along with two gunmen. It has ruled that the use of force at Kotkapura was unwarranted, uncalled for and not needed at all.
The firing took place between 6 am and 7 am on October 14, 2015. The Commission stated that direct evidence was not available on the exchange of talks between the then CM Parkash Singh Badal and the then DGP before the police action. But indication was in abundance that they did talk to each other at that time. That being so, the DGP was required to be firmly told by the CM not to carry on with the adventure in sync with the view of the district administration, unless he was in agreement with the DGP, or he was of the same view.
Available information suggests that the Commission is in the process of submitting a supplementary report to the government on the issue after receiving Saini’s “vague reply”. The exact role of the then CM is expected to be commended upon in it.
In its report to be tabled before the Vidhan Sabha, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted that the responsibility of action at Kotkapura to forcefully evict the protesters sitting on a peaceful dharna lied squarely with the police.
Justice Ranjit Singh added that the incident of sacrilege was such that the public was bound to react in the manner it did. In any case, it was not unusual for the public to sit on a dharna. The compulsion on the part of the police to act was due to pressure from the government/DGP Saini, who was keen to get the dharna lifted for some reason or the other.
Referring to a protest by Dera Sacha Sauda followers a few days earlier, Justice Ranjit Singh added that the use of force, as per evidence, was forbidden by the government even though they had blocked road and rail traffic. But the police were keen to get the dharna lifted due to the direction of the then DGP or the CM. If only the police or the DGP had shown some patience, the situation could have been saved.
As such, DGP Saini could not be allowed to escape the responsibility for directing the police to get the dharna lifted forcibly. IG Umranangal, DIG Chahal, SSPs Mann, Raghbir Singh and Sharma must share the blame for executing the avoidable action.
They were senior enough to suggest a course of action, when DGP Saini asked them to use force to lift the dharna. They could not even take the defence that they carried out the orders of the government or the DGP unwillingly.
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