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High Court Ruling on Kotkapura Firing Probe Triggers Political Slugfest Ahead of Punjab Assembly Elections

The Kotkapura firing incident that had spelt doom for the Akali government in 2017 Assembly elections is back in focus with the incumbent Congress government is now under fire after a Punjab and Haryana High court order quashed investigation by the State police and ordered constitution of a fresh Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The Kotkapura firing incident had been a central issue to Punjab politics not only during the previous Assembly elections but 2019 Lok Sabha polls as well.

On October 14, 2015, two people were killed when police fired at a group of people in Kotkapura in Faridkot district protesting against a sacrilege incident that took place at adjoining Bargari village. This firing incident was followed by huge protests across the State and turned into a major political issue ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls. The sacrilege and firing incident was believed to have played an important role in the fall of Akali government with the then opposition Congress accusing the latter of having ‘stage managed’ the sacrilege incident for poll benefits. The party had also accused the then State machinery of excesses on Sikh protestors.

The Captain Amarinder Singh government had not only ordered a judicial probe but a police investigation was also conducted in which the role of senior police officials came under cloud. But the High court order quashing the probe has given ammunition to the Opposition parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to corner the Congress government.

The AAP which is going to be contesting the elections for the second time in the State has already started trading charges at the ruling Congress alleging that there was a tacit understanding between the Congress-ruled government and the previous regime of the SAD.

“If the government really wants to bring justice to the victims of this case and punish the accused, then they should bring good lawyers in the court. The Congress is trying to save the conspirator of the Bargari sacrilege case and the Kotkapura case. The whole of Punjab knows who was behind the sacrilege case,” said AAP leader Bhagwant Mann.

The Chief Minister was quick to react to these charges levelled by the Opposition. In a statement issued by the Chief Minister aiming at SAD, Captain Amarinder Singh said, “Wait for the copy of the orders, before claiming victory.” The Chief Minister cautioned the SAD leader that there was no official announcement yet of the Court verdict. “In any case, whatever the verdict in the matter, I stand by the investigation of the SIT, which has, at no point, absolved the Badal family of involvement in the heinous incident, that led to innocent people losing their lives,” Captain Amarinder said, adding he would ensure justice for the families and punishment of the guilty, no matter who they are.

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