Chandigarh, Dec 26 (IANS) Describing as an “eyewash” the one-man commission set up by the Punjab government to look into the police firing in Behbal Kalan in Faridkot district, two NGOs on Saturday announced the constitution of their own ‘commission’ to investigate human rights abuses in the state.
Chandigarh and Punjab-based NGOs, Sikhs for Human Rights (SFHR) supported by Lawyers for Human Rights (LFHR) and Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) on Saturday announced the setting up of the ‘Justice Katju Commission on human rights abuses’.
Announcing the commission, PHRO chairman Justice (retd) Ajit Singh Bains, SFHR chairman Harpal Singh Cheema and lawyer Amar Singh Chahal and LFHR general secretary Navkiran Singh said the Justice Katju commission would dig out the truth behind the police firing at Behbal Kalan on October 14 that led to the death of two Sikh protesters and injuries to many others.
“The proposed commission will also look into whether the Punjab government acted as per law in arresting scores of protesting religious leaders and political dissidents under preventive measures and sedition laws in the aftermath of sacrilege incidents that rocked the state and saw people protesting en masse against the inefficient and inadequate response by state government to find out the culprits,” the NGO representatives said in a statement.
“The Punjab government has failed the people of the state. The setting up of the one-man commission led by Justice (retd) Jora Singh is an eyewash to cover up its own misdeeds.
“The state government has lost its credibility and trust by refusing to prosecute the erring policemen responsible for the Behbal Kalan police firing,” they claimed.
The representatives told the media that the commission will hold sittings at Behbal Kalan from January 21 to 23 in an open court where concerned people, witnesses and aggrieved families could register their statements.
“The commission would also write to the state home secretary and the director general of police to seek the version of the civil and police administration,” they said.
“The commission would look into whether the police firing on October 14 at Behbal Kalan and unleashing terror on protesters led by Sikh preachers at Kotkapura was essential in the given circumstances, whether the police and civil authorities acted as per the norms which are required to be adhered to before opening fire on protesting unarmed demonstrators,” they said.
Incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib in Bargari village in Faridkot and other places had sparked violent protests across Punjab by Sikh activists, especially radical elements.
Two men were killed in police firing in Behbal Kalan as police tried to break up the protests.