Fulfilling the promise made to families of Behbal Kalan police firing victims during his recent visit to Faridkot district, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi led a delegation of party leaders to President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Thursday, seeking a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the October 14 incident.
Putting up a show of unity, Rahul was accompanied by party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab unit chief Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar, All India Congresss Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of Punjab Shakeel Ahmad, AICC secretary Harish Chaudhary, party MPs Ambika Soni, Ravneet Singh Bittu and Chaudhary Santokh Singh, and other senior party leaders from Punjab.
In the memorandum submitted to the President, the party said, “On October 14, the Punjab Police open fired at Behbal Kalan village of Faridkot on a crowd of unarmed protesters, killing two civilians and grievously injuring several others. The group had assembled to protest government inaction in probing incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, but the police showered bullets on them.”
The party further said in the memorandum: “Though large-scale protests across the state compelled the state government to register an FIR into the firing incident of brutality, it does not name any police officer. Since the responsibility falls on the state’s home minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, it is evident that the guilty are being shielded.”
“Today, the public’s confidence in the Punjab government and the Punjab Police has hit an all-time low. The demand for a judicial inquiry comes from Punjabis all over the world who are deeply concerned that their state’s development is being thwarted by the Badal government. In such a serious situation, it is crucial that justice is upheld and the rule of law is restored,” it added.
‘Akali govt silencing voice of dissent’
Besides Rahul, Amarinder, Bajwa and Jakhar spoke to the President on the situation prevailing in Punjab. Jakhar told Mukherjee, “The Akali government has taken its election to office as a licence to terrorise people through the use of brutal police force. This tyranny of the elected has to be checked. As President, you have voiced your concern about growing intolerance in the country on many occasions. Silencing the voice of dissent is the worst kind of intolerance. The feudal mindset of the Punjab government needs to be curbed through your personal intervention.”
What was said
It is not a question of giving justice to two families. It is a question of giving justice to Punjab. - Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice-president
The terms of reference for the CBI inquiry does not include the police’s role and the FIR has no names in it. - Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha
It was cold-blooded murder. A lethal weapon like AK-47 was fired at innocent protesters. - Partap Singh Bajwa, Punjab Congress chief
This tyranny of the elected has to be checked. The feudal mindset of the Punjab government needs to be curbed.- Sunil Jakhar, Congress Legislature Party leader