SIT questions former CPS Mantar Brar, then Kotkapura SDM, DSP
The special investigation team (SIT) of Punjab Police probing the 2015 Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing cases on Friday quizzed former chief parliamentary secretary and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Mantar Singh Brar, then Kotkapura sub-divisional magistrate Harjit Singh Sandhu and then Kotkapura deputy superintendent of police Baljit Singh at the camp office in Faridkot.
Brar had failed to turn up before the probe team on November 1 citing personal reasons.
The Punjab government on September 10 formed a five-member SIT to look into alleged police firing on anti-sacrilege protesters at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura in October 2015. Additional directorate general of police (bureau of investigation) Prabodh Kumar is heading the SIT. The other members are inspector general (crime) Arunpal Singh, IG (crime) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, Kapurthala SSP Satinder Singh and commandant, Punjab Police Recruits Training Centre, Bhupinder Singh.
During questioning, Brar said that former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal directed the administration to deal with the situation peacefully.
The SIT also videographed the proceedings under the supervision of Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh.
The statement of sub-divisional magistrate Harjit Sandhu, then posted in Kotkapura, assumes significance as the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission, which probed sacrilege and subsequent police firing cases, recommended action against him.
The probe team, which has to submit a status report in the Punjab and Haryana high court on November 14, started investigations into the case on October 12. Last week, the SIT recorded statements of then Bathinda IG Jitendra Jain and then Ludhiana police commissioner Paramraj Singh Umranangal, who were among senior police officers present on the spot when police opened fire on the anti-sacrilege protesters in Kotkapura on October 14, 2015.
IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh confirmed the development and said: “We have recorded the statements and examined the persons concerned. The investigation is underway and will reach a conclusion soon.”
Former Kotkapura MLA Brar told the probe them that he was not present at spot when the firing incident took place. He, however, shared details with the SIT regarding his talks with the chief minister, director general police and district administration before the firing incident.
“Badal directed the administration to defuse the situation peacefully. Even I also asked authorities not to use force on anti-sacrilege protesters,” said Brar, insisting that the SAD government never ordered firing.
As per the Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission report, Brar remained in the touch with the CM and the district administration on the night before the firing. Following recommendations of the report, police registered an FIR on August 7, 2018, against unidentified persons under attempt to murder on the statement of Ajit Singh, who received bullet injuries during the police firing.
THE PROBE TEAM, WHICH HAS TO SUBMIT REPORT IN THE HIGH COURT ON NOVEMBER 14, STARTED PROBE INTO THE CASE ON OCTOBER 12