BEHBAL KALAN POLICE FIRING
Katju panel wants erring cops punished
- The Punjab Government should identify the police officers responsible for “unprovoked and unjustifiable lathicharge and firing at unarmed civilians”
- Compensation ofRs 1 crore and a job each to family members of Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh, who were killed in Behbal Kalan police firing
- Compensation of Rs 50,000 each for those injured in firing and canecharge at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura
Chandigarh, March 26
The People’s Commission of Inquiry probing the Behbal Kalan police firing and Kotkapura lathicharge has recommended punishment for police officers responsible for “unprovoked and unjustifiable lathicharge and firing at unarmed civilians”.In its report released today, the Commission, headed by Justice Markandey Katju (retd), a former Supreme Court judge, recommended compensation of Rs 1 crore and a job each to family members of Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh, who were killed in the police firing in October last year. A compensation of Rs 50,000 each has been suggested for those injured in canecharge and firing.
The one-man judicial commission has held the Punjab government guilty of being a wilful accomplice in the case. “Since the Commission received no help from the state government, its findings are primarily based on affidavits of the victims and witnesses, besides spot visits,” said Shashi Kant, general secretary of the Commission.
Stopping short of naming the erring police officers, the Commission said the state government should identify them so as to avoid a witch hunt against officers who were not guilty of dereliction of duty.
Justice Katju said, “Despite the presence of material evidence such as CCTV footage of the Kotkapura incident, the state did not provide us access to the same. We gave ample opportunity, but no representative of the state government or the police appeared before us.”Shashi Kant said people complained that the state machinery was pressurising them not to give statements before the Commission. Due to apparent lack of support from the state, the Commission could not verify complaints of public property being damaged during the protests that followed the Bargari sacrilege in Faridkot district.
In the Behbal Kalan case, the Commission report, while mentioning the testimony of witnesses, pointed out that former Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma and the SHO, Baja Khana police station, were present at the spot. “Some uncorroborated statements by witnesses state that police action was ordered the moment a phone call was received by the then SSP, Moga. The fact can be corroborated by the government-appointed Commission,” said Shashi Kant, adding that 37 witnesses gave affidavits.In the Kotkapura case, Sikh leaders such as Bhai Panth Preet Singh and Bhai Bhaktora Singh recorded their statements.Harpal Singh Cheema and Amar Singh Chahal of the Sikhs for Human Rights and Navkiran Singh of the Lawyers for Human Rights were also present during the briefing.
Why the commission was formed
Dissatisfied with the functioning of the government-appointed Commission led by Justice Zora Singh (retd), a group of Sikh human rights organisations had in December last year announced the setting up a parallel Commission to probe the circumstances leading to the Behbal Kalan police firing – in which two men were killed — and the Kotkapura lathicharge. Both incidents had taken place in Faridkot district in October 2015 during protests against the Bargari sacrilege.http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/katju-panel-wants-erring-cops-punished/213926.html