Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today termed an Election Commission order to transfer a senior police officer probing the 2015 Bargari firing incident as "biased", and said that his government will approach the poll agency to seek a review.
The Chief Minister - popularly referred to as Captain - claimed that the action, issued in response to a complaint by Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral, amounts to directly interfering in the special investigation team's probe. He said his government will ask the poll body to reconsider the matter "in the interests of justice and constitutional propriety".
Inspector General Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh was heading the probe into the case, in which two people protesting the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib were killed in police firing. The Akali Dal was in power at the time of the incident.
"The Akalis has been unsuccessfully trying to scuttle investigations into the sacrilege and subsequent firing cases that took place during their tenure, and are now desperate to save their skin," said Captain Singh. The entire premise of the Election Commission order was based on a flimsy complaint, which actually amounted to admission of guilt by the complainant, he added.
The Election Commission had yesterday ordered the removal of the senior police officer from the special investigation team probing the Bargari incident. The action came in the wake of complaints by the opposition party that the Inspector General had violated the Model Code of Conduct by making controversial "political" statements in a televised programme last month.
According to an official spokesperson, Captain Singh was of the opinion that the poll body was acting in a "highly biased manner" at the behest of the ruling BJP. He also alleged that the Narendra Modi government was targeting opposition-ruled states by brazenly exploiting the country's constitutional and democratic institutions.
The Chief Minister said that the special investigation team was probing the case as per the directives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a civil writ petition. He also claimed that the probe was a statutory requirement under the CrPC, in which even courts do not interfere. The Election Commission is not authorised to meddle in such a matter, he said, adding that actions like these are bound to destroy the "people's trust" in an agency that's expected to remain neutral.
The Lok Sabha elections in Punjab will be held in a single phase on May 29, 2019.