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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Batala cracker factory blast: Officer goes abroad on leave, probe hangs fire

cities Updated: Sep 22, 2019 01:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Even after 15 days, the deadline set by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to submit report of the magisterial probe into the firecracker factory blast, the inquiry is far from complete as the officer concerned, ADC (General), Tajinder Pal Singh Sandhu, has gone abroad on leave.

Taking a strict note of the incident, the chief minister on September 5 had ordered a time-bound magisterial inquiry into the incident in which 24 people were killed and several injured. The CM had asked to submit the probe report within 15 days but the ADC had gone abroad to attend a family function after initiating the inquiry.

Though district administration claimed that the leave of the ADC was sanctioned in advance, but why was he given the charge to head the probe despite this raised many questions on the sensitivity of the administration towards this tragedy.

Sources in the administration, on the condition of anonymity, said that before leaving for abroad, the ADC had summoned several officers who worked in Batala sub-division from 2017 to 2019. The officials of civil administration as well as police officials, who held senior positions in the area were summoned by the ADC.

Batala police were also asked to report what action was taken by them after the 2017 blast, which claimed one life while three were injured.

Questioning working of the district administration, Batala Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA, Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, said “it is mere a eyewash. The factory has been operating illegally right under the nose of district administration since 2017. ADC is junior rank officer. How can we expect the ADC to fix the responsibility of his seniors? It is a perfect case where you have committed the accused to become the investigating officer as well the judge.”

The probe should be handed over to a retired judge of high court to win the trust of people, he added.

Interestingly, not only opposition leadership, even senior congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa has also gone on record saying that the ADC was too junior an officer to be entrusted with the investigation.

When contacted, Gurdaspur DC Vipul Ujwal confirmed that the ADC had gone abroad on leave. On being asked about the findings of the probe, he said, “ADC is the right person to reply and very soon, he will be back and submit the report.”

Ironically, the Special Investigating Team (SIT), which was constituted by the police to fix the responsibility of erring police officials, was also awaiting magisterial probe’s report to act against them.

First Published: Sep 22, 2019 01:04 IST

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