Akali leader Mantar Brar contradicts Ranjit panel testimony before SIT
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.
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.