ECI wronged in removing IG Kunwar Partap Singh as SIT member

April 12, 2019 11:51 AM

CHANDIGARH: A delegation comprising the family members of the two Sikhs killed in October 2015 in indiscriminate firing by the police in Behbal Kalan, along with Dal Khalsa leaders Harpal Singh Cheema, Kanwarpal Singh and human rights activist Jagmohan Singh met the Chief Electoral Officer Punjab Dr. Raju and handed over a memorandum for the Chief Election Commissioner of India seeking reinstatement of SIT key investigator Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh.

Sukhraj Singh and Mahinder Singh, the son and father of deceased Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Sadhu Singh father of another deceased Gurjeet Singh and grievously injured Ajit Singh met Chief Electoral Officer and expressed their concern, pain and resentment over the removal of the said officer under ECI’s directions.

Speaking to the CEO, they asked him to forward their sentiments and protest to the Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora.  The delegation apprised the CEO that IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh had emerged as the face of the SIT as a result of his dedicated work and results that he had shown in arresting the two top guilty cops and removing him amounts to obstructing the course of investigation and dashing the hopes of the victim families in particular and the Sikhs in general had developed after the actions by the SIT.

Speaking to the media, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh said that “in case the ECI does not review its arbitrary and hasty decision, people will lose faith in the ECI and there will again be a possibility of uprising and protests amongst the population in Punjab.

Human rights activist Jagmohan Singh, who had come to express solidarity with the victim families, posed a question to the CEO and repeated the same to the media, saying, “How often do you find that Sikh organisations stand for a police officer? Sikhs are standing by him because he has had the courage to arrest culpable senior police officers and raised hopes for justice amongst the victim families. The ECI’s reputation is at stake and in case they do not respond, it will have itself to blame.”

The following is the full text of the Letter to the ECI:

We strongly protest the decision of the Election Commission of India to remove Inspector General Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh -the key member of the Special Investigation Team set up by the government of Punjab, effectively scuttling the investigation into the police firing at Bargari and Behbal Kalan, in which our family members died and scores of others were injured.

Our wounds have not healed and we will continue our struggle till the killer police personnel and the political leaders who ordered the indiscriminate firing are brought to justice and those followers and leaders of the Sirsa Dera who indulged in sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib are tried for desecration and blasphemy.

Since the last four years, when in October 2015, Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjeet Singh Sarawan were shot dead at Behbal Kalan, and Ajit Singh was severely injured at Kotkapura by indiscriminate firing by the police, we have been having sleepless nights.  We cannot forget the day when hundreds of protesters who had gathered to protest against desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, were fired upon without provocation whatsoever.

The then government of Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal  and Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have been subverting justice since then and the present removal of the honest and diligent police officer at the complaint of the Shiromani Akali Dal is a continuation of their game plan to ensure that the guilty police, administrative and political leaders escape the dragnet of justice.  The glee on their faces after having ‘successfully managed’ the removal of Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh is proof by itself of their guilt in the matter.  

As the Akali leaders started feeling the heat of the investigation, they started making insinuations against IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh. It is to be borne in mind that realizing that they might be indicted for their complicity in ordering the unprovoked firing and with the intention to save their own skin; the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership moved the Election Commission to remove the officer from the SIT.

We believe that the Election Commission of India has fallen victim to the machinations of the Shiromani Akali Dal and it should have been wiser and diligent in taking this major decision in which the sentiments of the Sikh community are involved. The matter is extremely sensitive given the fact that the Sirsa Dera followers are again attempting to exert their influence on the political developments in Punjab.

As you may know the setting up of the SIT was a decision pursuant to a resolution of the Punjab Assembly and by removing a member of the SIT, the Election Commission has obstructed the course of justice by derailing the investigation. During the course of investigation former CM Parkash Singh Badal, former Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Akali MLA Mantar Singh Brar beside many top level and junior police officers have been questioned and few have been arrested too.  

Our families have been consistently following the proceedings of the SIT in Faridkot and Chandigarh and we are conscious of the hard work that the SIT has been put in to ensure that the guilty are not allowed to go scot free.

The decision of the Election Commission of India is not only a set back to the investigation, but also a big jolt for justice to our families who were expecting the SIT to indict those responsible for the extrajudicial murders and injuries to many. The Election Commission has overstepped its authority in this case as the concerned police officer was not on any election duty and what he said was only a brief update on the proceedings of the SIT.  By no stretch of imagination did he violate the Model Code of Conduct of the ECI.

We, the victim families, categorically demand that the Election Commission of India must ask the Punjab government to reinstate Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh to his original position in the SIT and ensure that the work of investigation continues without any let up.

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