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In major embarrassment for AAP Govt in Punjab, High Court restores security cover for 424 VIPs

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann.

The High Court today directed the Punjab government to restore the security cover of all 424 VIPs from whom security was on May 28th trimmed or withdrawn by the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government.

The order came as a major embarrassment for  the two-month-old AAP government which had decided to withdraw or reduce the security of 424 political leaders and people close to them in order to get rid of the VIP culture in the state. 

However, the AAP government’s decision ran into controversy after the gruesome murder of popular Punjabi pop singer Sidhu Moosewala on Sunday in Mansa district just a day after his security was pruned from four commandos to two on May 28th.

The state government came under strong criticism from the opposition for divulging details of the curtailing of security of various VIPs which was seen as exposing them to a higher risk.

Former Deputy Chief Minister O. P. Soni and former MLA Kulbir Zira had moved the high court seeking restoration of their security accusing the government that it had not only reduced their security but even released the secret information to the media.

The ADGP (Law) told the high court today that the security of the 424 VIPs was curtailed on a temporary basis till June 6th so as to mop up force in view of the operation blue star anniversary. He conveyed the readiness of the government to restore the security of 424 VIPs by June 7th, to which the court agreed and passed an order accordingly.

The direction of the high court and the government's readiness to restore the security of 424 VIPs is seen as a major setback for the government.

The BJP was quick to point out that the Bhagwant Mann government has taken a U-turn since it had cited ending VIP culture as the reason behind curtailing security while in court they said that it was only a temporary measure.

"Kejriwal-Mann duo bite the dust, again. They refuted back in high court on their claim of reducing VIP culture in Punjab by saying that it was a temporary withdrawal. AAP Punjab's cheap stunt cost Punjabis a precious life. Punjab's youth would never forgive them for their hypocrisy," BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa tweeted.

Amid the strong attack from the BJP, the Punjab Chief Minister went to Delhi today for a discussion with party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. Mr Mann has announced a judicial commission headed by a high court judge to investigate the murder of Sidhu Moose Wala.

The Punjab Police has said a gang rivalry was behind the murder of the singer. Canada-based gangster in an unverified Facebook post claimed responsibility for the killing.

However, Sidhu Moose Wala's father in a letter to the chief minister criticised his government for linking his son's murder to a gang war and demanded an apology from the Punjab Police chief.