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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Ranjit Singh panel never pressed former Punjab DGP Saini to appear in person

So far, the commission has sought answers from the now retired DGP through letters only, while it repeatedly summoned other senior officials.

punjab Updated: Aug 01, 2018 09:58 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Former director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini
Former director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini(HT File)

Even as the Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission has indicted former director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in the case involving police firing at Sikh protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in Faridkot district, the panel never pressed the former top cop to appear in person.

So far, the commission has sought answers from the now retired DGP through letters only while it repeatedly summoned other senior officials such as then Ludhiana police commissioner Paramraj Singh Umranangal, then DIG Amar Singh Chahal, then SSPs SS Mann, Charanjit Sharma and Raghbir Singh among others.

Of a total of four letters sent to Saini, the latter replied to only one, it has been learnt.

In the first letter dated October 24, 2017, the commission posed 12 questions to Saini. “You may reply through an affidavit or may appear in person, if you so desire,” the letter reads.

The deadline to file the reply was November 6 but Saini did not respond. Then on November 11, 2017, the commission sent a reminder to Saini asking him to file his response by December 5. In this letter, the panel asked Saini to file reply over details of call exchanged between him and various police officers from October 13 to 14, 2015 (when the firing took place).

On June 19, 2018, the commission wrote to Saini to respond to the previous letters by June 26. Saini responded to this letter and filed a two-page reply in which he admitted of having talked to various officers at Kotkapura in connection with the law and order situation there.

In his response, Saini said the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal called him up at about 2am on October 14, 2015, regarding the situation at Kotkpura and the remedial steps being taken.

The panel, however, expressed dissatisfaction over his answers with regards to call details and wrote to him on July 12, “You are afforded yet another opportunity to file a specific response to the queries in notices (sent earlier). If you so desire….” He was asked to file a fresh response by July 15.

It is not known whether Saini replied to this letter.

When the commission reportedly found that the police action against ‘peaceful protestors’ at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan was avoidable, different police officials who were summoned maintained that the protesters were “violent radicals”.

“In Kotkapura, thousands of protestors were peacefully removed in buses. The police tried to convince the protesters to lift the dharna as there were intelligence inputs that radicals had given a call to their supporters to reach Kotkapura on October 14. When the police forcefully tried to remove some radicals early morning, they attacked the cops and a clash erupted,” some officers are learnt to have told the commission.

Saini in response said there was a clash between the agitators and a police party at Behbal Kalan, where two protesters were killed, and senior officials were at Kotkapura at that time. On Tuesday, Saini and Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh could not be reached for comments.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 09:56 IST

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