In an apparent attempt to pacify the BJP leadership, the Punjab government on Wednesday formed a three-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe the Akali-BJP violence that left six persons injured here on Tuesday.
The team was formed on the orders of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal as local bodies minister Anil Joshi, while reacting to the violence, had questioned Badal’s administrative capabilities and his ‘failure’ to keep the ‘goonda’ elements of his party (Shiromani Akali Dal) in check. The minister had expressed apprehension that the Akalis could harm his relatives, most of whom reside in Tarn Taran, his hometown.
The SIT members are inspector general of police (IGP, border range) Ishwar Chander Sharma and Amritsar police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh. Amritsar (rural) senior superintendent of police (SSP) Jasdeep Singh will assist the team in the investigation.
Confirming the development, Sharma said no time frame had been fixed for submission of the probe report to the government.
“We will visit the spot on Thursday. We will go into all aspects related to the matter,” he added.
Joshi had blamed the Akalis for the violence and alleged that their target was his younger brother, Raja Joshi, a former member of the local Nagar Council. He had claimed that shots were fired at his brother, while the cops claimed that these were fired in the air.
The minister, who had staged a dharna outside the subdivisional magistrate’s (SDM’s) office, had gone to the extent of suggesting to the state BJP leadership to review the alliance with the Akalis. The clash had taken place over discrepancies in voter lists of certain wards of the 23-member Nagar Council which goes to the polls on February 25.
When asked about the BJP’s next line of action, Raja Joshi said, “We are waiting for directions from our state leadership.”
The party is upset that the police did include Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in the FIR. On the complaint of BJP leaders, certain Akali leaders had been booked under sections 336, 382, 506, 148 and 149
of the IPC and the Arms Act.
“The police are favouring the Akalis. In the FIR, the police have stated that shots were fired in the air. Actually, the shots were fired at Raja Joshi and the intention was murder. So, the case should have been registered under Section 307,” said RP Singh Maini, state spokesperson of the BJP.
The BJP also released footage of the clash to the media. In the footage, Raja Joshi is seen sprawled on the floor and a man (identified as an Akali supporter) is holding a pistol/revolver in his hand, a few feet away. Maini claimed that the clash happened under the nose of the cops, with the Tarn Taran city police station house officer (SHO) being present on the spot.
Administration wakes up
The administration has finally issued orders directing those possessing licensed weapons to deposit these with their respective police stations. These orders should have come into force on Tuesday itself, but licensed weapons were brandished in public view during the Akali-BJP clash on the day the state election commission issued the notification for the local bodies’ polls.