Punjab Congress Questions EC’s Decision to Transfer Cop Probing Sacrilege Cases
The Election Commission had asked the state government that the IPS officer be 'immediately relived from his present post' for violating the model code of conduct.
File image of Election Commission office in New Delhi.
Chandigarh: The ruling Congress in Punjab has blamed the Election Commission of playing into the hands of the Shiromani Akali Dal after it ordered the transfer of IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap, the top cop who was part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the police firing in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura and the related incidents of sacrilege.
On Monday, the EC had asked the state government that the IPS officer be “immediately relived from his present post” for violating the model code of conduct.
Acting on the complaint filed by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral, the Election Commission held that the IGP had given a “politically motivated” interview to a TV channel about the ongoing investigation by the SIT and his comments “had the potential to show certain political leaders in poor light.”
The move has come as a shocker for the Congress which was expecting the probe to be completed while the Lok Sabha elections were round the corner.
Punjab cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa accused the Election Commission of overreacting. Questioning the EC’s decision, Bajwa said, “Either the Election Commission failed to understand the motive of the SAD or it has played into the hands of the Shiromani Akali Dal”.
“Only the courts would decide if it (EC move) was right or wrong. I would just say the EC shouldn’t have done this,” added Bajwa.
Bajwa also lashed out at the SAD, saying it feared the outcome of the SIT and hence was trying to stall the probe. “The SIT is nearing the completion of probe. The SAD fears that once the report is out, its whole conspiracy will come to the fore,” he said.
Terming the EC’s decision ‘erroneous’, Sukhpal Singh Khaira of the Punjab Ekta Party said the move was ‘politically motivated’. He, too, blamed the SAD for trying to stall the investigation. “The SAD has succeeded in its plan of hampering the SIT probe. I have a gut feeling that the Election Commission has been affected by the Modi government as Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a minister at the Centre,” Khaira said.
Khaira also took a dig at Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh for “failing to persuade the EC”. “Knowing that a complaint had been made 6-7 days ago, the Congress should have put its case before the commission. This episode brings Capt. Amarinder Singh’s role under suspicion.”
Reacting to the development, former Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal refuted the charges levelled by the Congress. “There is no politics involved. The Election Commission is a constitutional body and is not linked to any political party. Everybody knows the role the police officer (Kunwar Vijay Pratap) was carrying out,” he said.
Pratap has been transferred as IG Counter Intelligence. He was posted as IG, Crime and had the additional charge of Organised Crime Control Unit (OCCU).
It is still not clear if he has been removed from the SIT, even as the EC directed that “the member of the SIT may be directed not to air any such comments in future during the period of model code of conduct which will hamper the fairness of the conduct of electoral process.”
While investigating the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing and related sacrilege incidents, Pratap questioned Prakash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, actor Akshay Kumar and senior police officers.
Notably, the SAD had accused Pratap of “going aggressively ahead” with the probe.
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