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Does Punjab Speaker have a hidden agenda in cancelling meetings of all Vidhan Sabha Committees?

Punjab Assembly Speaker Kultar Sandhwan

Chandigarh: Could the real reason for cancellation of all meetings of all the Vidhan Sabha Committees slated for January 20, 2023, by Punjab assembly Speaker Kultar Sandhwan be the sacrilege-related agenda of the Assurances Committee headed by Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh? It is a mind-boggling question dominating discussions amongst legislators.

Police officer-turned politician Kunwar Vijay Partap resigned from the Chairmanship of the Assurances Committee on January 24, 2023, the day when the Speaker invited Chairmen of all the Vidhan Sabha Committees for a meeting. The Committees of the House comprising MLAs are given different tasks related to public issues and are supposed to submit their annual reports by the end of March.

On January 12, 2023, the 12-member Assurances Committee issued a summon to the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), to appear before it on January 20. The Committee reportedly wanted to get details of the progress made by the police on all the five FIRs related to the sacrilege incidents. A summon preceded the written questionnaire to the ACS (Home) that went unanswered.

The Assurances Committee issued the summons because in July 2022, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann handed over a 467-page copy of the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT’s) report to a select group of Sikh leaders led by Jathedar Amrik Singh Ajnala in Bathinda, but there was no mention of progress in the investigation in the Kotkapura lathi-charge and the Behbal Kalan firing incident in which two people were killed in this report.  So committee wanted a clarification on the issue.

The ACS’s summoning was also in consonance with AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal’s assurance given to people on January 12, 2022, at an election rally in which he announced the 10-point “Punjab Model” and assured the people that if AAP returned to power, justice in all the sacrilege cases would be done on priority, no matter how big the person involved. And lately, the Chief Minister handed over the SIT report to Sikh leaders conveying that AAP kept its word.

Asked to explain why he resigned, Kunwar Vijay Partap said, “I have resigned from the Chairmanship of the Assurance Committee on January 24, to maintain institutional sanctity in the larger interest of the people of Punjab.

Indianarrative.com, on Sunday afternoon, sent a questionnaire to Speaker Kultar Sandhwan asking, what was the reason for suddenly calling off the meetings of all the State Assembly Committees slated for January 20. What was the reason for calling a joint meeting of all the Chairmen of the Committees on January 24? A reminder was sent late evening, the same day. Another reminder was sent on Monday early morning. But Sandhwan did not answer.

The Punjab government had little to show regarding the progress in violent incidents of Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan emanating from sacrilege incidents. The SITs are headed by ADGP L.K. Yadav, looking into the Kotkapura incident, and Naunihal Singh into the Behbal Kalan killings. All suspects, including former Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal and former DGP Sumedh Saini, have been questioned many times, but the SITs could not file a consolidated chargesheet in the court. This appears to be the reason for the Speaker seems to have cancelled all the meetings of the Committees of the House so that Kunwar Vijay Partap could not take up the issue further,  did not raise any public hue and cry.