Rajat Sharma

Bagga: Is Kejriwal misusing Punjab Police?

rajat-sir In a nine-hour-long drama, the Punjab Police on Friday arrested BJP youth wing leader Tajnder Pal Singh Bagga from his home in Janakpuri, Delhi, whisked him away in a convoy of vehicles towards Punjab, but Delhi Police intervened and asked Haryana Police to stop the convoy near Kurukshetra. Delhi Police team went to Kuruskshetra and brought back Bagga to the capital.

Most of the drama was captured on camera and played out on visual and social media, with the three state police forces at loggerheads. Punjab Police claimed that Bagga was taken into custody for production before a Mohali court where an Aam Aadmi Party leader had filed a case against him. According to Bagga, he had tweeted against Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal saying that if the latter did not apologize for describing the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits as fake, he would not leave him (chhodenge nahin).

Since the arrest was on political grounds, Delhi BJP leaders became active soon after a Punjab Police team led by a DSP picked up Bagga from his home at around 8.30 am. Bagga’s father filed a complaint at a Delhi police station and Delhi Police registered a case of assault and abduction against Punjab policemen. A Delhi court soon issued a search warrant to Janakpuri SHO and Delhi Police contacted their counterparts in Haryana. The convoy in which Bagga was taken was traced near Thanesar, Kurukshetra on the national highway. Ultimately, at around 6 pm, Bagga was handed over to Delhi Police by their Haryana counterparts. Punjab Police went to High Court on Friday, but failed to get relief. Meanwhile, in Delhi, BJP workers stage protests outside Chief Minister Kejriwal’s residence. They alleged that Kejriwal was misusing Punjab Police as a tool to harass his political opponents.

Bagga’s father Preetpal Singh alleged that Punjab policemen hit him and his son while taking Bagga into custody. He was not even allowed to wear his turban, he said. When Delhi Police filed a case of kidnapping, Punjab Police became active, and a team of Punjab Police led by a DSP and sub-inspector went to Janakpuri police station to convey that Bagga was taken into custody for production before a Mohali court. But, by then the kidnapping FIR had been registered and the court had issued search warrant.

The manner in which the Punjab police convoy carrying Bagga was traced was dramatic. Haryana Police was contacted and the vehicle was traced near Peepli toll in Kurukshetra. Haryana Police intercepted the convoy and brought it to Thanesar Sadar police station.

Delhi Police lawyer said, Punjab Police could have informed Delhi Police before taking Bagga into custody through due legal process, but this was not done.Punjab Police is now on the defensive and trying hard to justify its act. Mohali SP claimed that a Delhi Police official was verbally told on phone about taking Bagga into custody, but he should know that a state police taking a person into custody from another state must follow due legal process.

In its petition before Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab Police alleged that Delhi Police has illegally taken its DSP into custody on charge of abduction. The high court however declined to give immediate relief, and posted the matter for hearing on Saturday. The Mohali case was filed by one Aslam Khan, resident of Malerkotla, Punjab, who alleged that Tajinder Pal Bagga had threatened Kejriwal in one of his tweets over the chief minister’s speech in Delhi Assembly over ‘Kashmir Files’ movie. Punjab Police had registered a case of disturbing peace and harmony against Bagga, after which the court had asked him to appear.

Delhi BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa alleged that Kejriwal had said in the past that he could teach a lesson to BJP leaders if his government gets charge of Delhi Police, which is presently under the control of Centre. Sirsa said, now that AAP is in power in Punjab, it is misusing Punjab Police to browbeat its opponents in Delhi. Another BJP leader Kapil Mishra described Friday’s drama as a victory of truth. He alleged that Punjab Police was working at the behest of Kejriwal, and it is “an insult to the people of Punjab”.

AAP leader Atishi Marlena described BJP as a ‘party of goondas and lumpen’ and alleged that the entire machinery was used to save Bagga. Haryana chief minister M L Khattar said, his police had only provided help to Delhi Police on the basis of court search warrant. Khattar however described the Punjab Police action against Bagga as political. He said, if such steps are taken based on political remarks, it could have serious repercussions in future.

I do not want to go into the technicalities of what was done by Punjab Police. If police has to arrest people based on comments made on Twitter, hundreds of thousands of people would have been behind bars by now. The fact is that Punjab Police sneaked into Delhi and arrested Bagga from his home. This was a political action. Several people had said during the Punjab assembly elections that if Kejriwal gets a state police under his control, he could use it as a tool to browbeat his political opponents.

A video was circulated on Friday in which Kejriwal was shown as saying that if he had police with him, he could send some people behind bars and make them toe his line (sabko theek kar denge). This is now evident from Punjab Police’s action. Soon after AAP took over power in Punjab, the state police went to the homes of Kumar Vishwas and Alka Lamba. And now, Bagga. All these three frequently give statements against Kejriwal. That is why, Kumar Vishwas on Friday retweeted a comment about Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann in which it was written ‘Pagdi Sambhaal Jatta’(Jaat, take care of your turban).

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