Akali leader Man­tar Brar con­tra­dicts Ran­jit panel tes­ti­mony be­fore SIT

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HTPUNJAB - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

CHANDI­GARH: Akali leader and for­mer chief par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary (CPS) Man­tar Singh Brar, who ap­peared be­fore the spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion team (SIT) on Fri­day, con­tra­dicted his tes­ti­mony be­fore the Jus­tice Ran­jit Singh (retd) Com­mis­sion that probed the Oc­to­ber 2015 sac­ri­lege and po­lice fir­ing in­ci­dents at Kotka­pura and Be­hbal Kalan.

Brar told the SIT formed by chief min­is­ter Cap­tain Amarinder Singh in Septem­ber to probe the sac­ri­lege in­ci­dents that he had spo­ken to then chief min­is­ter Parkash Singh Badal on deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion when some per­sons were stag­ing a protest at Kotka­pura against the sac­ri­lege in­ci­dents. “The CM had is­sued di­rec­tions not to use force. But be­fore the mat­ter could be re­solved am­i­ca­bly, hooli­gans cre­ated dis­tur­bance at the spot, due to which the po­lice had to use force to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion,” he has re­port­edly told the SIT.

But in his af­fi­davit filed be­fore the com­mis­sion on Septem­ber 12, 2017, Brar stated that “he made an at­tempt to speak to the CM but could not get in touch with him”. The next day, Septem­ber 13, when he ap­peared be­fore the com­mis­sion, Brar, in a signed state­ment given un­der oath, said, “I made an at­tempt to talk to the CM. I had his two tele­phone num­bers. One was switched off and I did not re­ceive any re­sponse on the sec­ond num­ber.” A month later, the Ran­jit panel sought Brar’s re­sponse again with de­tails of calls made from his mo­bile phone to Ga­gan­deep Brar, then prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary to Badal, on wee hours of Oc­to­ber 14, the day the fir­ing took place at Kotka­pura.

How­ever, Brar did not ap­pear be­fore it and in­stead sent a let­ter cit­ing that “his party, Akali Dal, has re­jected the com­mis­sion”. In its re­port, the panel has said Brar spoke to Ga­gan­deep four times, “which in­di­cates the in­volve­ment of the CM’S of­fice”.

Later, an­other wit­ness, VK Syal, then SDM-CUM-DTO of Farid­kot, told the com­mis­sion that Brar had spo­ken to Ga­gan­deep in his pres­ence. Ac­cord­ing to Syal’s tes­ti­mony, Brar spoke to Ga­gan­deep af­ter be­ing asked by then Farid­kot deputy com­mis­sioner Mal­winder Singh Jaggi.

Syal’s af­fi­davit dated Jan­uary 29, 2018, says: “Brar also spoke to (then) CM through Ga­gan­deep. He heard Brar telling the CM that the sit­u­a­tion in Kotka­pura was alarm­ing and if the protesters were not dis­persed, their num­bers could swell. Brar later told the district ad­min­is­tra­tion that the CM was pass­ing nec­es­sary di­rec­tions to (then) DGP Sumedh Singh Saini.”

When asked by the panel for re­sponse to Syal’s tes­ti­mony, Brar said Syal was “bi­ased” against the then state govern­ment and had at­tached a copy of Let­ter Pa­tents Ap­peal (an ap­peal against a sin­gle-bench or­der) filed by the of­fi­cer against the govern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Sec­tion 10 (A) of the Com­mis­sion of in­quiry Act, 1952, if any per­son, by words ei­ther spo­ken or in­tended to be read, makes or pub­lishes any state­ment or does any other act, which is cal­cu­lated to bring the com­mis­sion or any mem­ber thereof into dis­re­pute, he shall be pun­ish­able with sim­ple im­pris­on­ment for a term which may ex­tend to six months, or with fine, or both. Per­jury too falls un­der the am­bit of Sec­tion 10 (A).

Jus­tice Ran­jit Singh re­fused to comment say­ing he has al­ready sub­mit­ted his re­port to the govern­ment. Brar did not re­spond to calls and mes­sages sent by HT.

HT

Man­tar Singh Brar told the panel that he had not spo­ken to then CM be­fore po­lice fir­ing at Kotka­pura; tells SIT he spoke to Badal.

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