Until Wednesday afternoon, Punjab Police top brass didn't know that their discarded 'cat' Gurmeet Singh alias Pinky had again donned the khaki, using stealth and strategy akin to his exploits during terrorism in the border state.
It was business as usual at Punjab Police headquarters (PHQ), especially inside the fifth-floor office of additional director general of police (ADGP-intelligence) Hardeep Singh Dhillon -the top and trusted spy of director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini. But the peace suddenly turned into panic.
Ludhiana range deputy inspector general (DIG) Gurinder Singh Dhillon was on a routine visit to the police headquarters. He wanted to call on ADGP Dhillon to 'say hello'. It was during this 'courtesy call' that the DIG while getting a 'dressing down' from the ADGP concerning other issues let the 'cat out of the bag'.
Top police sources say the ADGP (intelligence) was cautioning the DIG about adverse intelligence reports pouring in about the functioning of the latter. It was at this point that the DIG informed the ADGP that he had not taken any eyebrow-raising decision since revoking Pinky's dismissal.
The ADGP later told his seniors that he froze in his tracks at the stunning revelation by the DIG. Pinky, a life-term convict in a murder case and dismissed from police in 2006, was released prematurely from jail last year, and after being reinstated on May 16 had joined duty at Fatehgarh Sahib.
When this drama was unfolding inside the ADGP's office, the DGP Saini was beside deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal at SAS Nagar. Immediately, the top intelligence officer sounded Saini over phone about the bombshell. Saini informed the deputy CM about this "administratively and legally untenable" and politically damaging decision of the DIG, well-placed police sources privy to these developments said.
As a damage control exercise, the deputy CM directed inspector general (IG-zonal) Lok Nath Angra to set aside the DIG's order. A formal order in this connection was dispatched later by the DGP, who simultaneously asked his men to seize all the records from DIG Dhillon's office about Pinky's rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, the DGP directed ADGP (administration) MK Tiwari to hold an inquiry into the episode, while IG Angra in the evening set aside the contentious order of the DIG.
"I am well aware of my order. Beyond that I am unable to comment on the matter which is now beyond my jurisdiction. I am bound by my uniform," said the DIG who, in his May 16 order, reinstated Pinky, describing him as a "daredevil and extraordinary police asset on the anti-terrorist front".
Meanwhile, at 1.30am of the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday the DIG was served transfer orders. "I received a phone call from the control room of the DIG range office at 1.30am that I have been transferred. I obeyed the order as a disciplined officer," DIG Dhillon told Hindustan Times.
Not only this, the DIG was asked to relinquish office and leave station immediately, which he did by 3.30am - a little before dawn on Thursday.
How Pinky was reinstated?
Nov 17, 2006: Pinky dismissed from police after being convicted in a murder case
June 2014: Pinky undergoing life sentence released from jail apparently prematurely
Nov 15, 2014: Pinky files appeal with the DIG (Range) Ludhiana. Later, comments were sought from Fatehgarh Sahib SSP
April 20, 2015: Pinky's file put up before DIG
May 5-6, 2015: DIG gives officially personal hearing to Pinky to decide the appeal
May 16: DIG Gurinder Singh Dhillon reinstates Pinky 'a rare human resource of the police'.