By Asia Samachar Team | PUNJAB, INDIA |
Former Punjab police chief Sumesh Singh Saini — badged top cop of the Indian state and who used to get glowing media attention for his hard hitting method in addressing Sikh issues — is now on the run. He has stealthily avoided arrest, with the government-provided security for him probably feigning ignorance.
The former Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) has been missing since Sept 3 after being booked on May 6 in a 29-year-old case of abduction, torture and disappearance of junior engineer Balwant Singh Multani.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court judge had denied his attempts to get anticipatory bail after two co-accused in the case turned approvers in August, leading to the addition of a murder charge against him.
A Mohali court has ordered his arrest and custodial interrogation for the 1991 murder case. It is believed he is avoiding it in a tactical move. By avoiding arrest, Saini can still try to move the judicial system to avail him the anticipatory bail, with the last resort now being the Supreme Court. If arrested, he has to opt for other options to stay free.
Saini was made the Punjab DGP in 2012. At 44, he made history by becoming the youngest ever DGP in the country.
But his appointment was greeted with a hue and cry by some quarters, including the Canada-based World Sikh Organisation (WSO), which said the move was ‘in opposition to all human rights norms’.
“Saini is accused of serious human rights violations including abduction, illegal detention and torture and is currently under trial for murder,” WSO said on a statement then.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal made the appointment after he was made the CM for a record fifth term on 14 March 2012, despite five Punjab Police officers who supersede Saini in seniority.
At that moment, WSO said Saini was facing trial in the abduction and murder case of Vinod Kumar who was abducted and disappeared in 1994 along with his brother-in-law and drive.
“During the late 80s and 90s, Saini was posted to areas in Punjab where severe human rights abuses took place. He has been implicated in the abduction, torture and killing of several Sikh youth during that period,” the statement added.
Saini is alleged to have indulged in gross human rights violation and torture during his career, especially when he served as Senior Superintendent of Police in at least five districts in Punjab and as Chandigarh SSP. All through his career, Saini has had his own set of admirers and critics, reported The Indian Express.
During terrorism in Punjab, when K P S Gill headed the state police force, Saini was given a free hand. His style of working remained controversial. A section of officers are still fans of his fight against terrorism with an “iron hand”, while others flag his alleged disregard for human rights, the report added.
The state was preparing to get him declared a proclaimed offender (PO) in the 1991 Multani murder case as he continued to evade arrest despite his bail plea rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, reported The Tribune yesterday (11 Sept). Once declared, the government can attach his movable and immovable assets.
MAKING SENSE OF THE SUMEDH SAINI SAGA
Sikh Political Analyst Bhai Ajmer Singh on Case Against Sumedh Saini & Role of Indian Judiciary
Former Punjab Police chief Sumedh Saini is booked for enforced disappearance of Sikh youth Balwant Singh Multani. The FIR against Sumedh Saini was registered on 6 May 2020, about 29 years of the occurence. During these 29 years Sumedh Saini was enjoyed state patronage and was awarded high ranks in police, including the top rank of Director General of Police.
The registration of FIR has its own significance but other hard facts can not be ignored that Sumedh Saini still enjoys state patronage. Despite registration of FIR he was not arrested by police. A Mohali court has already granted him anticipatory bail, which means police can not arrest him in this case.
In this video Sikh political analyst and author Bhai Ajmer Singh has touched various fundamental aspects of human rights abuses in Punjab and Indian state’s policy of impunity. (SikhSiyasat, 14 May 2020)
The Punjab Police have conducted raids in Hoshiarpur, Chandigarh, Delhi and some other locations in Punjab in the past 24 hours, but Saini remains untraceable. Notably, Z-security officials posted by the Central Government and Punjab Police have failed to explain how the former DGP was roaming around without the mandatory security, the report said.
When dismissing the anticipatory bail plea in the three-decade-old Multani kidnap and murder case, Justice Fateh Deep Singh described Saini as as a blue-eyed boy wielding much influence owing to political patronage.
It added that the former top cop even went to the extent of intimidating the judicial process as evident from observations of a senior HC Judge in 1995 followed by “earlier recusal in these matters by two sitting Judges of this court”.
If arrested, Saini could be the second IPS officer from Punjab to go behind the bars and face the murder case in the so-badged terrorism-related cases. The last was Ajit Singh Sandhu, who, in 1997, threw himself in front of the Himalayan Queen train to commit suicide. Before this, he was indicted by CBI in two out of 16 cases against him and spent some time in Amritsar jail, reported India Today.
SUMEDH SAINI FACT SHEET
(As listed in WSO media statement when Saini was made Punjab DGP in 2012)
- Saini allegedly armed and gave police immunity to a vigilante group under the command of Ajit Poohla which was responsible for attacks on the families of suspected ‘militants’
- On July 12, 1992 near Ambala (Haryana) a car was signaled to stop by plain clothes members of the Punjab Police under the command of then SSP Sumedh Saini. The occupants of the car believed the police officers to be criminals and tried to speed away. The Punjab Police officers chased the car and indiscriminately opened fire, killing the unarmed occupants, Jaswinder Singh (28), his four year-old son and brother-in-law Jasbir Singh. The Police claimed that they had been informed that the car was driven by terrorists. A murder case was registered against Sumedh Saini by the High Court.
- Sumedh Saini suspected that Punjab Police Constable Manjit Singh was aiding militants. He was arrested on August 16, 1993 and kept in police station Sector 26, Chandigarh. Manjit Singh was severely tortured by Saini and he was released the following day with severe injuries including electrical shocks, broken bones and gouge marks all over his body. Manjit Singh died under medical treatment. His wife, Karamjit Kaur filed a petition asking for a formal post mortem. The post mortem report found that Manjit Singh had died due to multiple external injuries
- Saini abducted a Sikh youth by the name of Parminder Singh alias “Heera”. During a week of interrogation, Heera was severely tortured. He was presented before the Court of Judicial Magistrate at Chandigarh for a 10 day police remand at which time he was severely injured with multiple bleeding wounds and badly scratched eye lids. Despite his injuries, Heera was remanded to custody another week without any medical treatment. According to then SSP of Ropar, Mohammad Mustapha (now ADGP Punjab), Saini later killed Heera and dumped his body in Ropar and asked the Ropar Police to report that he had been killed while trying to escape
- Sumedh Saini has been implicated in the abduction and disappearance of Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s father Balwant Singh, best friend Balwant Singh Multani and his maternal uncle. All three were allegedly held in custody and tortured before being killed. Although charges were filed against Saini, they were thrown out by the Indian Supreme Court due to legal technicalities
- According to the Times of India, since 1990, Saini has been forcibly occupying a government allotted residence in Chandigarh’s Sector 16.
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