Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was on Tuesday questioned by a Special Investigation Team of the Punjab Police in the 2015 Behbal Kalan police firing case.
Badal, who was quizzed for more than two and half hours by the SIT team, later slammed the AAP government in Punjab, accusing it of playing politics over the sacrilege related incidents for petty gains instead of nabbing and punishing the culprits.
The SIT, led by Inspector General of Police Naunihal Singh, had summoned the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, who was the deputy chief minister and also held the Home portfolio when the Behbal Kalan police firing incident in which two people were killed occurred. Badal reached the Punjab Police Officers’ Institute here at around 11 AM for questioning.
Senior Akali leaders including Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Bikram Singh Majithia, Daljit Singh Cheema and MLA Sukhwinder Sukhi and a large number of party workers were present outside the premises, where police had put barricades. The case relates to the theft of a ‘bir’ (copy) of the Guru Granth Sahib, putting up handwritten sacrilegious posters, and torn pages of the holy book being found scattered at Bargari in Faridkot.
These incidents had triggered protests, and two people – Gurjeet Singh and Krishan Bhagwan Singh – were killed in Behbal Kalan and a few injured at Kotkapura in Faridkot in alleged police firing. Speaking to reporters later on Tuesday, Badal alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government was doing politics to divert people’s attention from its “failures".
He alleged that the previous Congress government and now the AAP government did not have any intention to arrest the culprits of the sacrilege and police firing incidents. They just wanted to play politics over this issue, he stated.
Badal said that he told the SIT officers that he and other leaders of his party were ready to cooperate whenever and wherever they would be called. There should be no politics over this issue, the entire Punjab wants the culprits to be arrested. But instead of nabbing them, political games were being played, he alleged.
To a query, Badal said, The government already knows the answers to the queries the SIT has asked me. The answers are with them. Despite this they are indulging in this exercise to defame the SAD and its leaders. Former minister and Akali leader Bikram Majithia said that the SAD wants the truth to come out.
He asked whether the then home minister or the then chief minister was present on the spot when the Behbal Kalan firing incident took place in 2015. The answer is no. Then why do you call the then home minister (for questioning). If you want to set this precedent, then tell me when Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann will be called in the Sidhu Moosewala murder case, he further asked.
Majithia said not only was Moosewala’s security pruned by the AAP government but the list of those whose security was cut down was also shared on the AAP’s Twitter handle. If that is the set of rules to be followed, then Mann himself is responsible for the murder of Moosewala and for the Patiala clash incident (that took place in May). Then the government is responsible for the deaths which take place every day, said Majithia.
Therefore, you (AAP government) should not play with the sentiments of people and they should work for justice in the matter, said Majithia. Majithia also slammed former police officer and now AAP MLA Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, accusing him of playing politics when he was part of the SIT.
Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh took premature retirement in April last year after the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed a report filed by the earlier Punjab Police SIT into the 2015 Kotkapura firing incident. Singh was part of the SIT that probed the 2015 Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing incidents. Singh later joined the AAP and was elected an MLA from the Amritsar North seat.