IG Naunihal to head new SIT on Behbal Kalan firing case
A month after IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh proceeded on voluntary retirement, the state government constituted a new three-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe the 2015 Behbal Kalan police firing case in which two Sikh protestors were killed.
The new SIT will be headed by inspector general IG) of police, Ludhiana range, Naunihal Singh, who will be assisted by Mohali senior superintendent of police Satinder Singh and Faridkot SSP Swarandeep Singh. The new SIT will probe two cases connected with the Behbal Kalan firing incident. One case was registered against protestors on October 14, 2015, while the second against the cops on October 21, 2015.
Two youths were killed in the police firing at Behbal Kalan on October 14, 2015, while protesting against the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari on October 12. Police had also opened fire on protesters at Kotkapura, leaving many injured, the same day.
In its order dated May 15, a copy of which is with HT, the bureau of investigation (BOI) said that the two cases registered in connection with Behbal Kalan firing incident at Bajakhana police station were entrusted to sub-team of SIT headed by IG (retired) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh. “In view of voluntary retirement of Kunwar Vijay, the investigation of these two FIRs will now be completed by SIT comprising IG Naunihal Singh, SSP Satinder Singh and SSP Swarandeep Singh. The new SIT may seek assistance of other persons and experts to complete the investigation expeditiously and submit the final report,” it reads.
Kunwar Vijay was reportedly upset after the Punjab and Haryana high court quashed the probe reports submitted by the SIT probing the Kotkapura firing case, and ordered the government to form a new probe team. Kunwar Vijay’s voluntary retirement request was accepted with effect from April 15.
In 2018, the state government constituted an SIT led by then bureau of investigation director Prabodh Kumar to investigate Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases on the recommendations of Justice Ranjit Singh Commission. Two IG- rank officers, Arun Pal Singh and Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, SSP Satinder Singh and then commandant police recruits training centre (PRTC) Bhupinder Singh were the other members of the SIT.
Initially, IG Kunwar Vijay was appointed to probe the Kotkapura firing case, while Behbal Kalan firing case was entrusted to IG Arun Pal Singh and SSP Satinder Singh. In March 2019, SIT filed its first chargesheet naming former Moga SSP Charanjit Singh Sharma as accused in the case. This chargesheet was filed by the SIT team led by Satinder Singh (who is now member of new SIT), which was working separately from Kunwar Vijay’s team.
After SIT probe remained standstill in Behbal Kalan firing case for a year, the investigation of this case was also entrusted to Kunwar Vijay in June 2020 after which SIT made several arrests and named police officers, including former director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini and suspended IG Paramraj Singh Umranangal, as accused in this case.
Apart from Saini and Umranangal, the SIT had named former Moga SSP Sharma, SP Bikramjit Singh, former Bajakhana SHO Amarjit Singh Kular, Faridkot-based lawyer Sohail Singh Brar and Moga-based car dealer Pankal Bansal as accused. While one accused, inspector Pardeep Singh, has turned approver in this case.