The disturbing video being circulated on Facebook about the assault on senior Punjab IAS officer Kahan Singh Pannu, who is leading rescue operations in Uttarakhand, has left his supporters dejected. But Pannu has put the incident behind and is focusing on the work at hand.
Pannu, who sees a "deep-rooted conspiracy" behind the attack, says that right now his priorities are to assure the safe arrival of pilgrims from Punjab, who were stranded in Uttarakhand.
Pannu heads the team sent by the Punjab government to Uttarakhand to rescue the pilgrims stranded at Gobind Ghat and other places en route Hemkunt Sahib.
While speaking to HT on the phone from Dehradun on Tuesday evening, Pannu said, "It was just an incident and I have put it behind. Such incidents take place in life but do not deserve much attention. With the blessings of God, we succeeded in rescuing all pilgrims and in sending them home. Our operation was successful."
Talking about the assault, Pannu said, "I don't know who the people were, but they sure were motivated. I don't identify any of them. But the unfortunate episode needs a high-level investigation as it seems a conspiracy by vested interests," Pannu said without blaming anyone for the incident.
Pannu said, "Rumours were being spread from the very first day we started the rescue that I had an altercation with a police officer, which never happened. We did not even meet as we were busy in different areas."
He said some people tried to press the officials to evacuate them on priority, but they explained to them about rescuing those people first who were feeble, children or not in a shape to survive for long.
Pannu was not only attacked but also humiliated by a small group of youths who raised slogans against the Punjab government before attacking him.
Meanwhile, people are wondering how someone shot a video when the pilgrims were struggling to save themselves.
Baljinder Singh Sidhu of Kanakwal village of Bathinda district, who was on a pilgrimage to Uttarakhand, was among the first to upload the video on his Facebook wall within hours. It was shared by more than 400 users before he removed it. Sidhu is expected to reach his village on Wednesday.
Pannu, an upright officer, was recently in news following the book scam. However, Pannu refused to comment on a possible political angle in the incident.
He said the video in question had been removed after the intervention of the Rama Mandi police. When contacted, Bathinda SSP Ravcharan Singh Brar said he was not aware of the uploading of the video by a Bathinda man. He said he would look into it.