Cong MLAs press Capt for quick action in sacrilege cases
A day after Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar and cooperation minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa offered their resignations over the state government’s handling of the sacrilege and police firing cases, several party MLAs on Tuesday conveyed to chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh their apprehensions about the political fallout if justice is not delivered in these cases quickly.
The MLAs, who met the chief minister at his farmhouse in Siswan village near here, pressed for quick action in these politically sensitive cases before the state assembly elections due early next year, citing growing anxiety about the government’s ability to deliver justice on this emotive issue.
The common thread running through the feedback shared by several MLAs on mood on the ground was that the government cannot be seen procrastinating on taking action in the matter, and that it should move fast after the legal setback so that they can answer the people, according to sources. The Congress had, in the run-up to the 2017 state polls, promised strict action against those responsible for sacrilege and the subsequent police firing.
The party legislators met Amarinder in two separate groups of 15 each. While MLAs from Ludhiana, Patiala and Sangrur met him first, those from Ferozepur, Fazilka and Muktsar were part of the second group. Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, advocate general Atul Nanda, director general of police Dinkar Gupta and justice Mehtap Singh Gill (retired) were also present.
The council of ministers had, in its meeting on Monday, decided to set up a new special investigation team (SIT) to probe the Kotkapura firing case in compliance of the order of the Punjab and Haryana high court which quashed the report of the earlier team. It also decided to file an appeal against the HC order in due course. Nanda briefed the MLAs about the circumstances in which the government set up the fresh SIT and reasons, including gaps in the investigation led by then IGP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, that were cited by the high court while quashing the charge sheets filed by the Punjab Police in the firing case. The chief minister is scheduled to meet MLAs from Majha and Malwa and the remaining districts on Wednesday.
One of the participants said everyone was really concerned about the impact of the high court order. “They pressed the urgency of the matter and wanted the chief minister to find a way at the earliest,” he said. Khanna MLA Gurkirat Singh Kotli said the members told the chief minister that people were really worried and there are likely consequences if this sentiment persists. “Capt Saab assured us of quick action. We expressed our confidence in the chief minister and his leadership,” he said. Amarinder met the party MLAs on the day he also lashed out at the party’s Amritsar East MLA and former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who has been sniping at him ever since the court quashed the SIT report.