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Sacrilege probe: Saini fails to appear before commission 

Chandigarh: Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini’s name has surfaced in statements recorded by Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, prompting it to shoot off a communication to him. Probing incidents of sacrilege in Punjab two years ago, the commission had given Saini time till today to respond to the communication sent to him for clearing the air. 

The DGP was asked to appear before the commission either personally or through his representative. He was also reportedly given the option of submitting an affidavit.

Available information suggests Saini has not responded to the communication, giving the commission the liberty to draw its own inference on the basis of the material before it without the DGP’s account. 

The details of the communication, sent to the 1982-batch IPS officer at his Mohali office address, are not known as it was marked “confidential”. It is believed that Saini’s name surfaced in connection with happenings after the desecration of ‘birs’ in 2015.

Now posted as chairman of the Police Housing Corporation, Saini was removed as Punjab Police chief in October 2015. Tempers were frayed during anti-desecration protests after the police opened fire at protesters at Behbal Kalan village in Faridkot, leaving two persons dead and several injured. 

Dubbing the firing as “unprovoked”, the protesters claimed they were sitting on a peaceful dharna against the sacrilege incident in Bargari village.

Justice Ranjit Singh, when contacted, said: “The commission is probing the incidents of sacrilege and suggesting preventive steps. It is recording evidence and summoning persons, including police officers and other witnesses, as and when circumstances so warrant.” 

The panel had only recently examined Moga’s former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Charanjit Singh Sharma under Section 8 of the Commission of Inquiries Act, which allows the commission to give to a person, likely to be prejudicially affected by the inquiry, a reasonable opportunity of being heard and produce evidence in his defence.

Sharma, at one point of time, was blamed for ordering the Behbal Kalan firing, an allegation he has denied.

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