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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » Punjab police should have been better prepared, says ex-DGP

Punjab police should have been better prepared, says ex-DGP

Source: PTI
February 25, 2023 23:27 IST
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The police should have been better prepared to deal with the incident in Ajnala, especially as Punjab has seen the dark days of terrorism, and the administration should take it seriously and go for course correction, according to the state's former top cop.

IMAGE: 'Waris Punab De' group's leader Amritpal Singh's supporters break barricades and enter the police station demanding the release of Amritpal Singh's close aide, in Ajnala near Amritsar, February 23, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

“Mob mentality and such a blatant show do not augur well for democracy and the law and order situation of any state,” said former Punjab director general of police SS Virk who had remained at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.


On Thursday, Khalistani sympathiser Amritpal Singh and his followers, some of them brandishing swords and guns, stormed a police station on the outskirts of Amritsar city, extracting an assurance from the police that a kidnapping case accused Lovepreet Singh will be released.

The Punjab police on Friday had said the demonstrators had used a copy of the holy Guru Granth Sahib as a shield and attacked police personnel in a cowardly manner, leaving six of them injured.

Punjab director general of police Gaurav Yadav said the force had acted with “utmost restraint”, and had police opened fire "it would have led to more issues.”

"The Punjab police is a battle-hardened force and we have won a victory against terrorism. We have maintained harmony in Punjab and the state will continue to fight the nation's battle... this conspiracy shall not be allowed to succeed," he had said.

Virk on Saturday said the state police should have been more prepared to deal with such a situation.

Incidents relating to law and order do happen. But you have to learn from every lesson and correct your course, said Virk, the Maharashtra cadre IPS officer who was brought to Punjab on deputation in 1984 during terrorism.

The Padma Shri awardee became Punjab DGP during the Amarinder Singh government during 2002-2007. Later, he became Maharashtra DGP.

"We have to see that we will not permit the dark days to return. The government has to send this message," said Virk, adding that it is for the government to take a stand that it will not permit violation of law and order.

“Police should have been more prepared and with proper and adequate deployment, this issue could have been prevented,” Virk said.

As now it has happened, the Punjab government has to take it with proper seriousness, he said.

“We have to ensure that timely action prevents a bad situation. You have to take such issues seriously and deal with them firmly and effectively,” he said.

"You have to be effective and see that such incidents do not reoccur," he added.

On preventing such situations in the future, Virk said, “One has to keep one's powder dry,” while stressing adequate arrangements should be made by police to prevent such incidents.

“You should be in a position to control the situation as per the need which probably did not happen. And that situation should be avoided,” said Virk who was once hit by a bullet in his face in May 1988 outside the Golden Temple.

Jagrup Singh Sekhon, a political scientist, feels that such incidents "dishearten" the common people, though he does not see many similarities between the present situation with the terrorism days in Punjab.

At the same time, he added, "It is a serious matter and it is a direct confrontation with a state as a police station represents a state. It is a direct challenge to the very legitimacy of the state structure."

Dubai-returned Amritpal Singh was last year anointed head of the 'Waris Punjab De' organisation founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.

The event was held at Moga's Rode, the native village of slain militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Sekhon, who has co-authored a book on militancy, said, “Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at that time was the head of the Damdami Taksal (Sikh seminary) which has its legacy. At that time, the kind of support base was different.”

He said that the state structure has become more powerful with the improvement in infrastructure and communication and intelligence network as compared to that terrorism period.

When we talk of similarity, there are no such circumstances now and no such youth which will take to weapons, he said.

Referring to the Ajnala incident, Sekhon feels the group wanted to "demoralise the state" by storming the police station.

"Such incidents dishearten common people," he noted.

Punjab has seen terrorism between the 1980s to early 1990s.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee member Kiranjot Kaur said it was wrong to take the 'bir' of Guru Granth Sahib as a shield at the protest site.

She further said that religious leadership should guide the youth so that they channelise their energy in the proper way.

Amritpal Singh, dressed in flowing white 'chola' and navy colour gole dastaar (round turban), is often escorted by his armed supporters. He has been quite active in Punjab since taking over the reins of 'Waris Punjab De' last year, often making inflammatory statements on the Khalistan issue.

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