Blaming the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for the murder of Youth Congress leader Sukhraj Singh Bhugupur near Patti and the attack on Guru Harsahai MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa on Thursday claimed that these attacks were "deliberate and planned attempts" by the ruling party to browbeat the oppposition party into submission and win the May 19 zila parishad and panchayat samiti polls.
Reacting strongly to these two incidents as well as other cases of violence in the last couple of days, Bajwa alleged that total lawlessness prevailed in Punjab, and state police was dancing to the tune of the Akali leaders.
He claimed that the modis operandi of the Akalis was clear: to create a scare among the opposition ranks and secure victory in the local elections.
"The entire election process has become a farce. It is nothing but the murder of democracy and the Badals might as well nominate members to the zila parishads and block samitis," the Gurdaspur MP added.
Bajwa visited Bhungupur village on Thursday to condole the death of Sukhraj Singh, an active leader of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) and a block samiti candidate. Prior to arriving in Patti, he was in Ferozepur where he took part in a 'dharna' held to protest against police "inaction" in the case of alleged attack on Rana Sodhi two days back.
The PPCC chief said that he had apprised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of these incidents. The home minister would be presented a detailed report of the two incidents, he added.
Questions role of cops
Bajwa said that police were yet to register a case in the attack on Rana Sodhi on the plea that they would first investigate the matter and then register a case accordingly.
It was clear violation of Supreme Court directions to immediately register an FIR and then go ahead with the investigations, he added.
The Punjab Congress president also claimed that despite knowledge of enmity Sukhraj Singh had with a rival group in his village, police took away his licensed weapon on Tuesday, a day before the murder.
However, he alleged, the weapons of the rival faction supporting the ruling party were not touched and these were used to commit the murder, he alleged.
"Throughout Punjab, licensed weapons of our party candidates or supporters are being confiscated while the Akalis are roaming around brandishing their guns and pistols. The cops are privy to the murder of our candidate, which was planned in advance and should be held accountable," he claimed.
Asking chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to quit, Bajwa said, "Badal and his son go to the national capital to seek justice for the riot victims, but in Punjab their party workers backed by the cops target Congress workers, leaders and candidates."
Jakhar says police tool in Akali hands
Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, who attended the funeral of the slain YC leader, also questioned the role of the police.
He asked why the weapons of those responsible for the murder were not confiscated. "I can say without doubt that the murder was planned, with the police playing a major role. Our candidate became a sitting duck for his rivals once his weapons were taken away," he claimed.
Claiming that the YC leader was murdered on village gurdwara premises, Jakhar asked Badals whether they were shamed by this incident.
PYC president Vikram Chaudhary while also alleging that the murder was planned, claimed that the killers enjoyed proximity to food minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon. Others who attended the funeral included PPCC vice-president OP Soni, Harminder Singh Gill and several others.