Punjab Council of Ministers decides to form new SIT to probe Kotkapura firing incident

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Chandigarh, Apr 26 (PTI) The Punjab Council of Ministers on Monday decided to set up a new Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged firing by police on people protesting against desecration of religious scriptures in Kotkapura in 2015.

'It has been decided that a new SIT will be formed in compliance with the judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court,' Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said while addressing the media on Monday evening.

He said a resolution in this regard was also passed by the Punjab Cabinet.

According to the decision at the meeting, the council of ministers reiterated its commitment to bring the culprits of the sacrilege incidents and subsequent police firing to justice expeditiously.

'In order to avoid any further delay in the matter, it has been decided to set up a SIT in compliance with the judgement of HC pending appeal in the Supreme Court which may be filed in due course in consultation with legal experts, particularly with regard to the observations and conclusions of the court which were beyond its remit and even at times beyond the law,' according to the decision of the Cabinet.

In the meeting, Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar offered to resign over the alleged delay in justice in the 2015 incidents of desecration of Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib and the subsequent police firing in Faridkot, sources said.

The chief minister rejected their offers, they said.

However, both Randhawa and Jakhar were not available for comments.

The ruling Congress has been facing pressure for the delay in taking the firing cases to their logical conclusion. Two people were killed at Behbal Kalan in alleged police firing.

The high court on April 9 had quashed a report by the Punjab Police SIT into Kotkapura police firing. The HC also directed the state government to set up a new SIT to investigate the case without the then IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who resigned soon after the court order.

In his 89-page judgement made available on Friday, Justice Rajbir Sehrawat had ruled that the investigation into 2015 Kotkapura police firing incident conducted by IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh was not free from 'blemish' and his 'personal malice and malafide functioning by totally usurping the powers of SIT was demonstrated on record'.

The judge had also said the investigation suffered from 'malice, irrationality and absurdity' and added that the former IG was a person who indulged in 'misuse of his official position to further his designs'.

The court had further ruled that Kunwar Vijay had gone to the extent of 'manufacturing the statements of witnesses to suit his designs'.

The high court had also said that the new SIT would not report to any state executive or police authority, but only to the magistrate concerned.

It had also said the investigation shall be concluded as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of six months from the date of the constitution of the SIT. PTI CHS VSD AAR AAR