Never Ordered Firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan: Parkash Singh Badal Denies Charges in Ranjit Panel's Report
Former Punjab CM and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal speaks to News18 on the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report that has stated that Badal was aware of the twin firing incidents in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan.
Amid a raging debate over a report by Justice Ranjit Singh Commission that states former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal “was aware” of the twin firing incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan that killed two persons, Badal speaks to News18’s Ritesh Lakhi.
Here are some of the excerpts:
Q: Of late, you have been referred to as an evil force hampering peace in Punjab. The Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report has also been critical about your role in the firing incidents.
A: All my life and also as the chief minister of the state, I have worked towards peace and communal harmony. Peace and communal harmony is so sacred to me that I’ll serve the state till my last breath. Everybody in India knows who brought peace to Punjab.
Q: How did you feel when foul words were used against you in the recently concluded Vidhan Sabha session?
A: It wasn’t a session, but merely a rally as Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) wasn’t a part of it. And the reason SAD wasn’t part of it was because retired Justice Ranjit Singh is a biased man. When he was on duty, our Advocate General wouldn’t appear in front of him because he was partial. Ranjit Singh was always against us because of his closeness to the Congress.
Q: The language that was used against you, do you think that has affected the party in any way?
A: The issues are quite clear. They say that I called at 2 in the night. I called because I was concerned about the whole situation. My orders to the DGP and district authorities were to solve the situation by talking and not by use of force. In the 10 years of my tenure, whenever there were protests by any employees or farmers groups, I would always order the police to solve it through talks. I have always ordered to not use force.
Q: What were your exact orders to the police? How did you want the police to act at that time? If your orders were so clear, why was the ground reality so different? What did you tell the DGP at 2 am?
A: At that time, only Kotkapura’s matter had come to light. Nobody knew about Behbal Kalan or any other incident. I called him to ask to peacefully resolve the Kotkapura issue. There was no one in Behbal Kalan at that time. The Behbal Kalan incident took place four hours later. People don’t have clarity that Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura are two different topics. Dharna was at Kotkapura but the deaths have taken place at Behbal Kalan. There were no causalities at Kotkapura.
Neither the Punjab administration, nor I or the DGP knew about Behbal Kalan. At 2 am, there was nobody at Behbal Kalan.
Q: What were your exact words to the DGP at 2 am on that night?
A: Not just I, no home minister or chief minister will ever give shooting orders. No chief minister would give an order that would put him in question.
Q: The Ranjit Singh Commission report doesn’t clearly say that you ordered the firing. But by pointing at that phone call, your role has come under spotlight.
A: I was awake that night because I was worried. I often keep the phone beside me so that if ever any incident occurs in the state, I am available. Even you should know that Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura are two different incidents.
Q: Besides the deaths, questions have also been raised on your government’s role in addressing the sacrilege issues during that time.
A: Nobody knew who were the culprit behind those incidents. The SIT that was formed during that time was also the same as the one during Captain Amarinder Singh’s tenure. Even the DGP was same. There are a lot of cases in which it gets difficult to find the culprits.
Q: Would you term it a misfortune as they couldn’t solve the case during your tenure but was solved during the Congress regime?
A: Had they come up with something one month after our tenure got over, then it would have been a different case. The SIT head has clarified that he never faced any pressure from our government. A religious matter should not be turned into a political one. Even during the Congress rule, several sacrilege cases took place. Now would you say that Amarinder is behind these incidents?
Q: Hasn’t the 7 hour-long session at Vidhan Sabha raised doubts about your religious credentials?
A: We don’t agree with Justice Ranjit Singh Commission’s report. Just five days before submitting the report, his daughter was made an official at the Advocate General’s office. He is close to both AAP and Congress.
Q: Capt Amarinder Singh has also blamed you for your role in Operation Blue Star, saying that whenever there was any scope of negotiation, you would sabotage the efforts.
A: Firstly, why did Amarinder resign if he wasn’t at fault? Secondly, when it is about Punjab and our religious sentiments, we are firm that we will not bow down. Indira Gandhi ordered the Army to attack Shri Harmandir Sahib. On the orders of Indira Gandhi, Shri Harmandir Sahib was filled with blood. And they chose Shri Guru Arjan Dev’s Shaheedi Diwas to sacrifice the lives of thousand innocents.
My life is an open book. Amarinder called me ‘buzdil’ (coward) and ‘jhootha’ (liar). But in all the fights and issues related to Punjab, I have always been at the forefront. During the time of Emergency, SAD was the only party whose leaders were put behind bars for 19 months. Everyone knows who attacked Shri Harmandir Sahib.
Q: From Navjot Singh Sidhu telling Sukhjinder Randhawa to march towards SGPC who had declared in the House the need to free SGPC from the clutches of SAD, the Panthic agenda is making some sense here.
A: From the beginning, Congress has always tried to have complete hold on religious places. When SAD fights any fight from Akal Takht, it never looks back. From the issue of water to Emergency, we have always fought against powerful governments. Now, Congress wants complete hold of the Akal Takht as all their previous efforts have failed. Amarinder Singh or the previous governments have never left any chance to completely capture Akal Takht. Now they want to malign the image of Akal Takht and Shiromani Akali Dal. Khalsa Panth should not let Congress succeed in their tricks.
Q: Capt Amarinder Singh called you an ‘evil’ force working against communal harmony.
A: Before 1997, Punjab was going through a difficult phase. Post 1997, I got the chance to serve it for 15 years. Punjab witnessed the most peaceful times in that period. But Amarinder terms that time as evil. Out of the 5 minutes that he spoke at the Vidhan Sabha, he dedicated most of the time to me and Sukhbir. He didn’t speak on any Punjab-related issues. The entire nation knows that BJP-SAD’s agenda is communal harmony. The entire nation calls me messiah of peace and communal harmony. We took out Punjab from its difficult phase and made it a place with better opportunities. Now, everyone calls it the best place for business.
Q: Your party also feels that it is wrong to take back the probe from CBI. Why did you hand over the matter to CBI?
A: The affected families wanted the investigation to be done by the CBI. The way they formed the Ranjit Singh Commission, similarly they will make SIT. We are not afraid of jails. We have always fought for the country, Punjab and Panth and would continue doing so.
Q: What is the next step?
A: From Jawaharlal Nehru till today’s leaders, Congress has always been against me because I have always fought against them. At the time of Independence, Master Tara Singh was the first political prisoner. Indira Gandhi attacked Shri Harmandir Sahib and her son was behind the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Amarinder Singh framed a Rs 3,500 crore case against me. Not just me, he also framed my wife. They are quite vindictive. But their vindictiveness won’t bother us. They will shoot us or put us behind the bars but we aren’t scared of anything.
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