Earlier they had a simple excuse: “We are under too much pressure of VIP duties” but now the scene is totally different. The state cops are now almost free from “VIP duties” as the model code of conduct is in force. The results of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls, held on February 4, are yet two weeks away. For all political activities and major state functions being on suspended mode, the district headquarters of the police these days give deserted look in each of the three regions—Majha, Malwa and Doaba.
Still, the state police are not able to perform in an expected way. Though occurrence of crime can rarely be checked in advance, one expects the law enforcing and investigation agencies to detect the crime and nab the accused without much delay. And at times, protracting leads to unrest among public which further causes threat to the law and order situation.
It’s been about a month when some unidentified persons executed twin bomb blasts in Maur mandi of Bathinda district which claimed six lives and left many injured. Visiting the town the state police chief Suresh Arora suspected it to be a terror activity targeted on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s close relative and former Congress minister Harminder Singh Jassi.
Despite the fact that the blast had terrorised not only the people of Bathinda district but also various others in Malwa region, the state police could not yet trace this high-profile incident. Despite tall claims of conducting deep investigations, nothing could be ascertained till Sunday, when another shocking incident took place in the region.
This time, two unidentified motorcycle borne youngsters pumped six bullets in the chests of two staunch followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, when they were sitting in the canteen of the dera at Jaghera village near Ahmedgarh. The two killed were identified as father and son, who used to run the canteen in the dera for long past.
Initially, the police tried to project it a case of personal rivalry but after the bereaved family members on Sunday rejected the claim stating that the two were quite humble in conduct and never had dispute with anyone, the police officials took back their words with a single liner: “We are working on different theories and hopefully the culprits would be nabbed.”
The situation, on Monday, was quite tense as the dera followers denied cremating the body till the arrest of the killers, with also divulging that their teams from Dera headquarters (located at Sirsa) would be reaching the village on Monday to give further programme.
It may be a mere co-incidence of the two major instances taking place in Malwa within a month and that too related to people having association with the dera sacha sauda, it can’t be ignored that a section of hardline Sikhs carry deep anguishes against the dera head and its followers since 2007, when Gurmeet Ram Rahim was accused of blasphemy. They had accused him of imitating tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh during a congregation allegedly held in Salabatpura (the sect’s Punjab headquarters), located in Bathinda district.
In the past one decade, Punjab has witnessed various severe clashes between Sikhs and dera followers. Many Sikhs and dera followers have lost lives. A lot of public and private properties were torched and damaged and to control the situation, a number of times curfew was imposed in different parts of the state.
It’s not only the case with dera sacha sauda, the state police also need to pacify the public outrage for not being able to trace various high profile killings including Hindu Takht leader Amit Sharma at Ludhiana, Punjab Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd) at Jalandhar and Namdhari sect matriarch Mata Chand Kaur at Bhaini Sahib in Ludhiana. Apart from these, various incidents related to sacrilege of holy books are also lying untraced.
In many of the cases, the parts of the inquiries were also handed over to the national probe agencies but the annoyance of masses is still against the state agency. No one can deny the fact that these issues brought bad name for the state government and its police during the recent Vidhan Sabha polls. The opposition slammed ruling alliance for not being able to get the culprits nabbed and it would have certainly affected the vote bank of the alliance that was contesting to come in power for third consecutive term.
Notwithstanding the political impact, such high-profile untraced incidents are now diminishing the faith of public in state police. In the wake of all-around criticism and serious instances taking place one after another, I expect the state police, without terming this article a prejudiced one, would wake up to deliver the results at the earliest possible, hopefully before the formation of next government!
Police were yet to trace the culprits of two blasts in Maur mandi which were reportedly aimed at Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s close relative and former minister Harimder Jassi, two unidentified persons on Saturday shot a father-son duo in dera’s canteen at Jaghera village