Batala blast: 5 days on, ADC finally gets CM’s order to begin probe; district authorities on strike today to demand Bains’s arrest
"How can a junior officer probe against senior? How can an ADC probe against DC? How can an SP level official probe against SSP? Factory was running there for three years, ” said Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa.
The officer heading the Batala firecracker factory blast probe finally received the order from Punjab CM Amarinder Singh’s office to begin the probe Monday, five days after the incident.
The toll in the blast rose to 24 Monday with death of one Sammulen Masih alias Vicky, a resident of Ramdas village in Amritsar, who was injured in the blast. Six others injured in the blast are still undergoing treatment at the Amritsar hospital. The investigation is being conducted by Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), Gurdaspur, Tajinderpal Singh Sandhu.
Meanwhile, the only accused in the case named in the FIR, Roomy, is yet to be arrested by the police. ADC Sandhu said he had no information about whereabouts of Roomy.
About Roomy’s whereabouts, Batala DSP B K Singla said: “We have sent out parties to arrest Roomy. We have been conducting raids at the places of relatives of Roomy. We will soon arrest him.” Roomy belonged the family that ran the factory.
On Monday, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa questioned his own government, and asked that how can a ‘junior officer’ investigate the ‘role of his senior’ in the case. “How can a junior officer probe against senior ? How can an ADC probe against DC ? How can an SP level official probe against SSP? Factory was running there for three years. There is clear negligence of civil and police administration and officials responsible to keep check such illegal factory. This probe should be conducted by a retired judge so that truth should come out,” said Bajwa, who was in Batala to meet the victims.
Interestingly, Sandhu on Wednesday presided over a meeting of government employees union and gave the call of one- day strike to protest the alleged defamatory words used against his senior, DC Gurdaspur Vipul Ujjwal, by MLA Simarjit Singh Bains.
Bajwa added, “It is the need of the hour to fix responsibility of the district administration related to the present incident. FIR under Section 302 should be registered against the official found guilty, irrespective of their rank. Also, because the blast is result of negligence of administration, so I request the Punjab government to declare an amount of Rs 25 lakh ex-gratia for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the victims who have been injured in this untoward incident.”
Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), Gurdaspur, Tajinderpal Singh Sandhu Monday presided over a meeting of government employees’ unions and representatives of private educational organisations from Gurdaspur at district headquarters to give call for strike on Tuesday to demand the arrest of MLA Simarjit Singh Bains. Bains had allegedly misbehaved with the DC during his visit to Batala on Thursday.
After the meeting, the head of DC employees union, Gurdaspur Harjinder Singh, said, “ADC (General) had presided over the meeting at Panchayat Bhawan. It was attended by government and private representatives. We have been demanding arrest of Bains. We had read somewhere in newspaper that police parties had gone to arrest Bains. But so far, arrest has not been made. At the same time, we want Punjab government to disqualify Bains from the Punjab Assembly. These are our demands for which we are going to held gate rally.”
Bains, meanwhile, has filed a plea for anticipatory bail in District and Session court, Gurdaspur, which is scheduled to be heard on September 12.
Addressing a press conference in Ludhiana, Bains said that FIR against him for ‘misbehaving’ with Gurdaspur DC Vipul Ujjwal, was because he had challenged the closure report filed by the Vigilance Department in the alleged Ludhiana City Centre Scam in which the CM, his son, Raninder Singh, are an accused.
“The next hearing of the case is on September 19 in Punjab and Haryana High Court and Captain can file as many FIRs against me as he wants, but I will continue to challenge the closure report filed in the case. This case is not on the complaint of any SDM or DC, but to settle scores by Captain….I am sitting at my home in Ludhiana and Batala police is most welcome to come and arrest me,” said Bains.
Hitting back, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that he had issued the instruction after seeing a video of Bains reprimanding the official publicly on the issue of identity of a body.
“Nobody has the right to enter any government official’s office and misbehave in this manner,” the Punjab CM said, adding he had also directed all officers to respect citizens and elected representatives.
The ripples of the run-in between Bains and the DC are being felt across the state as DC Office Employees Union (DCEOU) observed a pen-down strike across the state on Monday. DCEOU members gave memorandums at DC offices across the state demanding suspension of MLA Bains and banning him from contesting polls in future.
The PCS Officers’ Association of Punjab has given a call of a pen-down strike across Punjab on September 11. The PCS body is also protesting against ill-treatment meted out to Zira SDM while on flood relief duty.
On September 5, Zira SDM Narinderpal Singh was allegedly attacked by few farmers at Gatta Badshah village when he went there to oversee flood relief work. Few farmers who were upset over the pace of flood relief work had threatened to throw the SDM into the river.
PCS Officers Association general secretary Rajat Oberoi said,”On September 9 and 10 our association will be on pen-down strike in Ferozepur and Faridkot, while on September 11 it will be done statewide.”
(WITH PTI INPUTS)