Punjab CM trashes police charges against minister

Chandigarh, Feb 25
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday trashed former Ludhiana DSP's charges against Cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, saying had someone like Balwinder Singh Sekhon made such charges against a senior commander in the army, he would have been court martialled and dismissed by now.

Reacting to former DSP Sekhon's allegations against the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister, which were raised by some opposition members in the House a day earlier, the Chief Minister informed the assembly the former was only trying to conduct a media trial with his baseless charges.

Unfortunately, this was not the army and Sekhon could not be court martialled, said Amarinder Singh, asserting that if the departmental inquiry currently in progress against the ex-DSP finds him guilty, he (the Chief Minister) would personally ensure the officer's dismissal under Article 311.

Ashu had already been given a clean chit at every level by the TADA and other courts, Amarinder Singh pointed out, adding that all cases referred to by Sekhon had been scrutinized through judicial processes and no fresh evidence had been filed by the DSP.

Pointing out that Ashu was just 19 when his parents were killed, the Chief Minister said TADA cases against him were examined by the commission set up by the then Akali government and Ashu was duly exonerated.

Responding to Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema, the Chief Minister later said Ashu had mentioned all these cases in his election affidavits.

"This man (Sekhon) was thrown out of police force and even dismisses from duty on many serious charges. But he was reinstated later, and he is now making charges against my minister," said the Chief Minister, questioning the former DSP's locus standi in making any statements or allegations against Ashu.

Describing Ashu as a competent minister who had the difficult charge of handling food security, the Chief Minister said the state's godowns were full and the minister was trying to solve the issue of plenty.

On SAD member Bikram Singh Majithia pointing out that cases had been opened against Akali's Valhota after 32 years, Amarinder Singh quipped, "Then why not initiate a case against Parkash Singh Badal who had torn copies of our Constitution?"

Later, talking to media the Chief Minister said the issue was being raised by the Akalis after all these years purely for political reasons.

"Why did they (Akalis) not reopen the cases during their regime if they felt there was something in it?" he asked.