Punjab’s congressional-led government has come under fire even as the opposition alleged that some congressional leaders were using the police as a tool to score points with opponents and opposition leaders.
Criticism has become more poignant with the dismissal of DGP Iqbal Preet Singh (IPS) Sahota and Advocate General APS Deol. While Sahota was transferred as a DGP officiant within almost three months (2 months and 21 days), APS Deol resigned within 31 days.
Sources said the two officers were dismissed from their posts under pressure from the head of the Pradesh Congressional Committee (CPC), Navjot Singh Sidhu. APS Deol had accused Sidhu of interfering in the work of the government.
Especially, the new official DGP Siddharth Chattopadhyaya and New General Counsel DS Patwalia is believed to be Navjot Sidhu’s choice.
Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who appointed APS Deol and IPS Sahota, is on the sidelines after their dismissal.
Charanjit Singh Channi was also ignored in various election commissions. While Navjot Singh Sidhu to lead Punjab election commission, Channi will have to work under him.
“I’m sad for him [Channi] that despite his enormous potential, he is subject to the whims of CCP Chairman Navjot Sidhu, “Captain Amarinder said while adding,” Channi will end up only becoming a night watchman. “
“Sahota led the SIT which falsely implicated two young Sikhs in the Bargadi police dismissal case,” Navjot Sidhu said in his resignation letter, citing why he was against his appointment as DGP.
Sahota, however, denied these allegations.
Rival congressional camps also cite two other reasons for Sahota’s dismissal: one, he allegedly failed to act in the synthetic drug case, and second, the confidential letter ADGP SK Asthana wrote to him in as the head of BIS was disclosed to the press. It left the Congressional government red-faced.
The Channi government was under pressure from Navjot Sidhu, who had demanded the arrest of a senior Akali Dal official in a synthetic drug case. The letter was also reportedly leaked to “benefit” an Akali Dal leader.
REGULAR DGP LIKELY TO BE ANNOUNCED NEXT WEEK
So far, the government of Punjab has not appointed a regular DGP. The names for this extension are deleted by the UPSC.
The government of Punjab sent a group of 10 agents on September 30. However, the names could not be erased following some discrepancies raised by UPSC.
The UPSC recruiting committee meeting is scheduled for December 21, during which the names of three eligible agents will be announced.
This means that Punjab’s new DGP is expected to be appointed on December 22.
Meanwhile, opposition parties have raised the question of why the Punjab government did not wait a week to withdraw IPS Sahota when the UPSC was on the verge of disbanding the panel.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government sent a panel of 10 officers on September 30. The list also includes the names of former DGP Dinkar Gupta, officer of DGP Siddharth Chattopadhyaya and IPS officer Sahota.
Eligibility criteria for the appointment of the DGP include a period of service of six months or more.
Siddharth Chattopadhyaya will retire on March 31, 2022, so he only has a four-month period of service left.
The government of Punjab has also frequently transferred the heads of the Bureau of Investigation (BIS). While two officers were transferred within 2.5 months, another was placed on leave. The officers were reportedly forced to reserve Akali Dal’s leadership.
Arpit Shukla was removed from his post as head of BIS on October 13, 2021 – within four months. He was replaced by Varinder Kumar who was also transferred after 48 days.
SK Asthana was appointed the new head of BIS on December 2. He went on sick leave within 10 days.
The government of Punjab is now considering appointing a new head of the BIS.
ALLEGATIONS OF KICKBACKS IN THE TRANSFER AND ASSIGNMENT OF SENIOR POLICE OFFICERS
Opposition party leaders Aam Aadmi (AAP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) claimed cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh alleged bribes in police transfers and assignments in a recent cabinet meeting.
Sources said that a heated exchange between Punjab’s Interior Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Rana Gurjeet Singh took place during the meeting on the transfer of the SSP and DSP.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Rana Gurjit Singh, however, denied these allegations.
While opposition Akali Dal accused the Punjab government of using police officers as a tool to score points with opponents, the AAP demanded a high-level investigation into the bribery allegations.
“Navjot Sidhu is fighting with Chief Minister Channi, Sunil Jakhar fights with Navjot Sidhu, Partap Singh Bajwa fights with Jakhar. In fact, they are all fighting to plunder the Punjab because they know the Congressional government is leaving in a few days. All members of Congress are plundering Punjab beyond its borders, ”AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal said during a speech in Lambi on Thursday.
The AAP has also called for a high-level investigation into the bribes in the police transfer allegations by writing a letter to the governor of Punjab.