Justice ( retired) Markandey Katju, former chairman of the Press Council of India and former Supreme Court judge, recorded statements of the people on the October 14 Behbal Kalan police firing incident at the gurdwara of the village here on Sunday.
Besides locals, religious leaders such as Panthpreet Singh, Satnam Singh Chandar, Harjinder Singh Manjhi, Avtar Singh Sadhawala and others appeared before the commission and narrated the sequence of events leading to the lathicharge in Kotkpaura and firing in Behbal Kalan.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer HS Phoolka also reached the village along with other lawyers assisting the commission.
Pritam Singh, grandfather of Gurjeet Singh, killed in police firing, and Mohinder Singh, father of the second victim of firing Krishan Bhagwan Singh, also appeared before the commission.
Beant Singh, who was critically injured in the firing, also appeared before the commission. Seeing his condition, justice Katju himself went up to his vehicle and recorded his statement there.
It was learnt that as many as 36 people have given written statements to the commission. No police or civil administration official reached the spot.
In the evening, justice Katju reached the main square at Kotkpaura where religious leaders had started a protest on October 12 after the sacrilege incident in Bargari village. The police had resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the crowd at Kotkapura on October 14 before the firing incident at Behbal Kalan. Some people were injured in the lathicharge in Kotkapura also.
Justice Katju has come as a one-man commission to Behbal Kalan to probe the firing incident on the invitation of the organisations including the Sikhs for Human Rights, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation and the Lawyers for Human Rights International.
The aim of the independent commission is to inquire as to what warranted the police to open fire without provocation on the protesters in which two people were killed and whether the police followed the prescribed procedure to open fire if the situation warranted so.
The police had, under public pressure, registered a first information report (FIR) against some unidentified police officials on October 21 for the death of the two, but no action has been taken on it.
AAP HAILS INQUIRY
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has welcomed the inquiry undertaken by justice (retd) Markandey Katju into the police firing incident at Behbal Kalan. Terming the justice (retd) Zora Singh commission, set up by the Punjab government, a farce, AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira said, “It is a matter of shame for the so-called ‘panthic’ Badal government that it has failed to provide justice to the victims of the October 14 police firing.”
“The justice Zora Singh commission has not moved an inch since its inception. Justice (retd) Zora Singh is a known Badal loyalist and is only expected to give a clean chit to the culprits responsible for the firing,” Khaira said.