Special investigation team, led by ADGP LK Yadav is probing the Kotkapura firing incident, while another SIT led by IGP Naunihal Singh is investigating the Behbal Kalan case
The Punjab Police special investigation team (SIT) probing the post-sacrilege police firing incident at Behbal Kalan in 2015 on Wednesday summoned former deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal for questioning on September 6.
Earlier, Sukhbir had been asked to appear before the SIT with relevant records on August 30 at Punjab Police Officers’ Institute, Sector 32, Chandigarh, in connection with two first information reports (FIRs) registered at the Bajakhana police station on October 14, 2015, and September 21, 2015. Summons were issued under Section 160 (police officer’s power to require the attendance of witnesses) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Sukhbir confirmed that he had received the summons.
“I have talked with the SIT members and asked them when I should come. The Congress did drama for five years on sacrilege cases and now the Aam Aadmi Party is doing the same drama instead of catching the real culprits. At least a thousand persons have been called by the SIT. I am not called an accused, I have been asked to appear for the purpose of the investigation to know what happened at the time of the incidents. I was not even in the country when these incidents took place,” he said.
This is the first time the SIT led by inspector general of police (IGP) Naunihal Singh has summoned Sukhbir for questioning in the Behbal Kalan firing case. It is learnt that the SIT wants to confront Sukhbir, who was the home minister when the firing incident took place, to ask him who ordered the firing on October 14, 2015, at Behbal Kalan. There is no official direction on record regarding any firing order.
Earlier, the SIT led by former IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who is now an AAP MLA, had questioned the SAD chief in November 2018 in connection with Behbal Kalan case.
On October 14, 2015, police had opened fire at people protesting at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan against a sacrilege incident that had taken place at Bargari in Faridkot district. While two protesters, Gurjeet Singh of Sarawan village and Krishan Bhagwan Singh of Niamiwala village in Faridkot district, were killed in Behbal Kalan, several people were injured in Kotkapura.
An SIT, led by ADGP LK Yadav is probing the Kotkapura firing incident, while another SIT led by IGP Naunihal Singh is investigating the Behbal Kalan incident.
The move comes a day after Sukhbir skipped the summons sent to him by the SIT led by Yadav, citing his appearance in Ferozepur district’s Zira court in connection with a case registered for blocking a highway.
Sukhbir asks to give another date, Kotkapura SIT refuses
It has been learnt that after Sukhbir failed to appear before it, the SIT asked him to appear on September 14, but the SAD president told the team to give any other date as he is not available again.
However, the Kotkapura SIT has issued a summons to Sukhbir for September 14 and asked him to appear on the same, declining the request. A SAD leader said that now they will change their schedule and appear before Kotkapura SIT on September 14.
The probe teams have expedited the investigation process after the Faridkot trial court had said that the trial in both Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan cases will go simultaneously as directed by the Punjab and Haryana high court.
A chargesheet (now quashed) filed in the court by Kunwar Vijay in May 2019 had said that incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib were “a pre-planned handiwork of then deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, then DGP Saini and Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda”.
The Kunwar-led SIT had claimed that the post-sacrilege firing incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan were part of a conspiracy and directions came from the top.
On April 9, 2021, questioning the impartiality of Kunwar Vijay, the Punjab and Haryana high court had quashed all chargesheets filed by the SIT in the Kotkapura firing case. The court also directed the state government to reconstitute a new SIT without him. Following this, the then Congress government constituted an SIT led by ADGP LK Yadav in May 2021.