Holding Captain Amarinder Singh “directly and personally responsible” for the pardon granted to the four killers of innocent Sikh youth in a fake encounter, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today asked the Chief Minister to explain to the people of Punjab in general and the Sikh masses in particular why he went so much out of the way to expeditiously secure pardon for the murder convicts.
Addressing the media here, Mr Badal said the SAD will press for recall of the pardon by approaching the Governor and if the government did not reverse its decision, “we will approach the High Court against the pardon. We owe this to the Sikh masses, especially to the families of thousands of innocent Sikh youth killed in fake police encounters in the state during Congress governments or Governor’s regime,” said Mr Badal.
The SAD president said Punjab government files clearly proved how Captain Amarinder Singh took an extraordinary personal interest in securing pardon for the killer cops, quite out of character with his (the CM’s) normal laid-back approach on every issue of public interest. Sharing copies of government files with the media persons, he said, “The CM must explain what was his unusual personal interest in getting the known and convicted killers of Sikh youth pardoned even as the family of victim had to endure extreme suffering and hardships in securing a conviction in the case. What explains the CM’s persistence and haste in pursuing the case with the centre even after the centre showed reluctance in granting its clearance to the pardon, and never actually granted it?” He also demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the High Court into the entire sequence of events to unearth the conspiracy behind it.
Stating that Capt Amarinder Singh had also caused untold hurt to the psyche of the Sikh community and betrayed the trust of the people in the elected government, Mr Badal said documents showed there were no mitigating reasons for the benevolence extended to the cops. “In fact if the same yardstick is applied uniformly then all the prisoners of Punjab will be set free”.
The SAD president also asked chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to own responsibility for taking this anti-people step and render an immediate apology. He said the chief minister must also tell Punjabis why his government recommended the pardon knowing full well that the four cops had killed a Sikh youth in a fake encounter. He said the Congress government may have forsaken the victim family but the SAD would not fail in its duty and would offer all possible help to the family to get justice in the case.
Giving a brief about the case, Mr Badal said the chief minister took it upon himself to move a file to the Governor seeking approval to write to the union home department for seeking its consent for pardon of the cops. He said the CM did this when the Additional chief secretary, Home pointed out that pardon could not be given by the State in cases where the investigation had been carried out by central agencies. He said following this the CM kept following up the case with repeated reminders and finally secured the pardon for the killer cops.
Setting the record straight in the wake of Congress attempts to mislead the people, the SAD president said neither he as home minister or the Jails minister or the chief minister processed the file at any step during the erstwhile SAD-BJP government. He said the Congress government was not only at fault for recommending and implementing the pardon decision, but also not recording the serious nature of the crime committed by the killer cops and the injustice which would be inflicted on the victim family in case the killers came out of jail scot free after undergoing barely two years of their life sentence. “This is a clear case of travesty of justice and we demand the pardon decision be reviewed immediately”, he added.
Answering another question on the killing of Mohinder pal Bittu, the prime accused in sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Mr Badal said although this was clearly an emotional act reflecting the hurt and anger of every Sikh over the repeated acts of sacrilege, there are also pointers towards a “deep rooted conspiracy by the high and mighty in the state to destroy crucial evidence about the mastermind behind the sacrilege conspiracy. “Bittu could have been merely a hit-man and his real bosses may have got him eliminated in true mafia style fearing an expose’ by him. The Chief Minister is hiding a lot in this case”, said Mr Badal, adding that Bittu could have provided crucial information on the conspiracy to destabilize Punjab through acts of sacrilege when the state enjoyed an atmosphere of peace and communal harmony during the SAD-BJP tenure.”