Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has ordered an inquiry into Saturday’s incident in which terrorist-on-death-row Balwant Singh Rajoana thrashed senior journalist Kanwar Sandhu during an unauthorised interview inside the jail here.
On Sunday, Badal assigned the investigation to additional chief secretary (home), while the prison department also reported the matter to police. Contrary to the claims of journalist Sandhu that there was no manhandling, a security-camera video has surfaced of his entering jail with controversial dismissed cop Gurmeet Singh Pinky, getting bashed up, and coming out holding his turban in hand.
Sandhu claimed that Rajoana’s sister, Kamaldeep Kaur, had invited him to interview the terrorist convicted of being involved in the assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995. Sources inside the prison said Rajoana had pounced on Sandhu as soon as the journalist had shot his first question referring to Pinky, who has alleged extra-judicial killings in 1980s and 1990s during the terrorism days in Punjab.
Additional chief secretary (home) Jagpal Singh Sandhu will visit the Patiala jail on Monday to prepare his report. Meanwhile, the Patiala jail superintendent has sent his findings on the scuffle to police to get on with criminal investigation. Punjab additional director general of police (prisons) Rajpal Meena said the report had been forwarded to the Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP). “The prison department can look into only jail-manual violation and not criminal aspect. We have done our job of suspending the two officials who made the unauthorised meeting possible.”
However, police have not registered a case yet. “We have sent the prison department report to the district attorney for legal opinion, based on which, we will decide whether or not to register an FIR (first-information report),” said SSP Gurmeet Singh Chauhan. Sources who have seen the jail department report say that it mentions how Sandhu and Pinky gained entry to the cell and quotes rules that differ on whether or not it was trespass.
Deputy inspector general (prisons) LS Jakhar on Sunday visited the jail and recorded the statements of its officials, inmates and even Rajoana to complete his investigation into the violation of jail manual. He is supposed to submit his report by Tuesday, which will go to the home secretary, district police chief, and district magistrate.