Kotkapura firing case: Punjab CM defends AG, legal team

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Chandigarh, Apr 14 (PTI) Punjab CM Amarinder Singh on Wednesday trashed the opposition allegations against Advocate General Atul Nanda and the legal team that defended the probe into the 2015 Kotkapura firing incident after the desecration of a religious text in the state.

Incidents related to the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib had taken place in 2015 in Faridkot.

The Punjab and Haryana High court had on Friday quashed the state’s SIT probe report into the Kotkapura firing at a gathering of Sikh demonstrators who were protesting the desecration of the religious text. The Punjab government on Saturday said it will challenge the court order with the CM asserting that the probe into the Kotkapura firing case was “totally fair, impartial and unbiased”.

On Wednesday, the CM slammed opposition parties , accusing them of deliberately trying to provoke public sentiment to create 'trouble' ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.

He dubbed it a 'brazen game-plan' of vested interests trying to 'mislead' the people of the state with their deliberately 'misleading' statements on different aspects of the sacrilege litigation.

'These vested political interests were mixing up the same as a clear ploy to confuse the people,' said the CM in an official statement here.

Contrary to what these vested interests, including leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were projecting, the fact was that the sacrilege cases were being handled separately in the courts from the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing cases, said the CM.

The AG and his team had been tasked with defending the state only in the sacrilege matters, he said.

It was to the credit of the AG and his team, which fought the case hard and effectively in the courts, that the CBI, which had made no progress in the matter for nearly four years, was forced to hand over all case papers to the Punjab Police SIT on February 5, he added.

He said a separate special investigation team, headed by Inspector General SPS Parmar, is now probing the sacrilege cases.

The CM said this, in itself, falsifies all allegations of any collusion between the ruling government and the accused of this heinous crime.

The case will be taken to its logical conclusion and those guilty will be punished as a result of the concerted efforts of the AG and his team, he added.

As for the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases, the AG was not even involved in the defence, which was being undertaken by a specialised legal team from the Supreme Court headed by leading criminal lawyers Siddharth Luthra and others from Delhi, the CM said.

The team of Delhi lawyers had also been working relentlessly to defend the state in the matter of the police firing cases probe, he said, asserting that he also had full faith in the SIT headed by Kunwar Vijay Pratap to investigate the firing cases.

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday alleged that the state government had appointed Advocate General Atul Nanda with a team of 150 advocates only for 'losing' the case.

He had earlier alleged that the state government did not present the case in the court in a proper manner.

The SAD had earlier claimed that the High court order had made it clear that the CM was not interested in finding the guilty but was using the case to implicate the Badal family. IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh was heading the SIT probing into the Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan firings at demonstrators protesting the desecration of the religious text in Faridkot.

At Behbal Kalan, two people were killed in the police firing. PTI CHS VSD RDK RDK