Twenty-nine special investigation teams (SITs) in as many months! That’s the rate at which Punjab’s Parkash Singh Badal government forms squads to solve crimes.
The state has two-dozen police districts, where cops led by senior superintendents of police (SSPs) maintain law and order. Their questionable detection skills forces the government to set up SITs whenever criminals leave them searching for clues. Most SITs (including 11 formed in the past five months) have been to defuse public protest, however.
The dismal success rate of the SITs as well has the potential to derail law and order now. Each of this team is under the command of a senior officer, including even inspector general (IG), a so-called expert in detection, yet 29 SITs of more than 80 cops have made no progress in any case — all remain “under investigation”.
Punjab Police have taken huge criticism over the rise in targeted killings. The principal opposition party, the Congress, has upped the ante against the Akali-BJP government after the SIT guided by director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora failed in its two-month hunt for those who killed Namdhari matriarch Chand Kaur, 85, on April 4 at the sect’s Bhaini Sahib headquarters. “Investigations are on,” is how a police officer said before hanging up the telephone receiver.
Be it shooting during the morning drill at an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) branch in Ludhiana or motorcyclists’ gunning down Punjab Shiv Sena leader Durga Prasad Gupta at Khanna in a broad daylight on April 23, the investigators are yet to make any progress. However, additional director general of police Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, director of the bureau of investigation, says the progress in every case is reviewed regularly. “The SITs help make breakthroughs, definitely. The case they are assigned are complex and tedious and not every case relates to law and order,” he told HT.
While 11 SITs were set up in the past five months — two per month — 13 were formed last year and four are at work since 2014. In many cases, a single officer is on multiple SITs. IG (crime) Nageswara Rao, who had a long innings in the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), leads four special teams and is part of another. DGP (border range) Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, who is also hailed for his crime-solving skills, is a head of three SITs, while another bright officer, IG Varinder Kumar, guides two.
“Every SIT has good leaders and still the results are discouraging. This is a matter of concern,” agreed a senior police officer.