Chandigarh, Jun 26 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday was questioned for around four hours by a Special Investigation Team probing the 2015 Kotkapura police firing incident.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) dubbed the SIT investigation as “malicious” and alleged that the SIT had become a “puppet” in the hands of the Gandhi family to “implicate” the SAD leadership.
Badal reached the Punjab Police Officers' Institute at Sector 32 here around 11 am following a summons by the SIT.
Badal was the deputy chief minister and holding the home portfolio when incidents of desecration of religious texts and the subsequent police firing at people protesting against it had taken place in Faridkot in 2015.
Several senior SAD leaders, including Bikram Singh Majithia, Balwinder Singh Bhundar, N K Sharma and Daljit Singh Cheema, reached the Punjab Police Officers' Institute in a show of support to Badal.
After his questioning, Badal came out of the institute at 3.10 pm and then waved at the Akali Dal workers from his vehicle.
“I am indebted to the party workers for giving so much love and respect,”Badal tweeted.
On Tuesday, the SIT led by Additional Director General of Police (Vigilance Bureau) L K Yadav had questioned Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for two-and-a-half hours.
Addressing the media here, SAD leaders Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Maheshinder Singh Grewal and Daljit Singh Cheema demanded that the SIT also probe the role of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu, accusing them of hatching a conspiracy to frame senior party leaders.
Terming the entire episode as a “political vendetta”, Grewal said the SIT should not allow itself to be “used” by the Gandhi family.
“It is a malicious investigation,' Grewal said.
“The SIT has also eroded its credibility by associating retired officials like the former director (prosecution) Vijay Singla in the probe,” he said.
Singla has resigned as a legal expert of the SIT. His presence during questioning of Parkash Singh Badal was objected by the SAD on June 22.
Saying that the new SIT was like “an old wine in a new bottle”, the SAD leaders said, “It is not likely to make any headway in the case as its agenda is to keep the pot boiling and not to solve anything”.
They said the probe should be handed over to the Supreme Court, which should supervise the entire investigation.
They said while on the one hand the government wanted to defame the SAD, it was also using the case to “quell dissidence” in the party.
“In doing so, it has created a new precedent by questioning a former CM and former Deputy CM in a case involving a local law and order situation,” they said. Cheema said while the Congress-led government was pursuing the Kotkapura firing case as it felt it had a handle to implicate the Badal family, it is not taking interest in pursuing the Bargari sacrilege case or the Behbal Kalan police firing, in which two persons were killed.
Harcharan Bains, principal adviser to the SAD chief, said, “The Kotkapura incident was probably the only incident in the world in which the SIT wanted to know who ordered the firing after the relevant competent authority–the SDM has already declared that he ordered it. It's like the SIT asking the SDM not to disclose that he had ordered the firing because it wanted to blame the Badal family for the same.” The Punjab government had formed the new SIT to probe the case following directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who had on April 9 quashed a report by an earlier Punjab Police SIT into the firing at people protesting in Kotkapura in 2015 over the alleged desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Faridkot district.
Police had also opened fire at a similar demonstration in Behbal Kalan, also in Faridkot, where two people were killed. A separate probe is under way in that case. PTI CHS VSD RDK RDK