Chandigarh, Oct 27 (IANS) A top politician is hectoring Punjab's Police chief and the latter, in turn, tells him to stick to politics. The scenario may seem unlikely but this is exactly what is happening in the state these days.
Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh and state police chief Sumedh Singh Saini are involved in a bitter war of words - both telling each other how to conduct their respective businesses.
At the centre of the no-holds barred fight is the recent kidnapping of a minor girl of Faridkot town, allegedly by a local gangster whom the Congress accuses of having links with the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.
The girl, who was kidnapped for the second time this year allegedly by the same person, was finally recovered by the Punjab Police this week from Goa. Her kidnapper, who police claimed had married her, was arrested. Both of them are minors.
The Congress party, and particularly Amarinder Singh, took on the Punjab government and the police for going soft on the case for almost a month after the second kidnapping and not recovering the missing girl. Faridkot town has seen public protests since last month, when the girl was kidnapped for the second time.
Two Punjab Police officers, meanwhile, went overboard by releasing photographs of the kidnapped girl and her tormentor apparently getting married. The officers, a deputy inspector general and a senior superintendent of police, were transferred for mishandling the matter by showing the photographs to the media.
The kidnapper, who is a dropout from a leading boarding school and belongs to a well-off family, has been booked by the police in 16 cases, including rape and kidnapping of the girl.
As the Congress leadership took on Punjab Police, Amarinder Singh and Saini got involved in a verbal slugfest.
Amarinder Singh asked Saini "to stick to service discipline and not to pass flippant comments".
He asked Saini "to leave politics to politicians" and get down to his own business of maintaining law and order in Punjab, "which is otherwise touching its nadir with rampant crime and drug addiction".
Saini had earlier said: "I would strongly advise Capt. Amarinder Singh to leave policing and investigations to the police and devote his time to his own business, if he can. He should abstain from unethical behaviour or making issues where none exist. As far as the investigation is concerned, it has been carried out in a professional manner."
Reacting to this, Amarinder Singh asked Saini: "Are you the chief minister or the home minister of Punjab to come out with political statements?"
The former chief minister, who has served as a short service commission officer in the Indian Army, said that police officers had no business to indulge in posturing to please their political bosses. "This neither goes with the discipline of their services nor the decorum of the office of the DGP (director general of police)," he said.
"That a DGP should comment on the functioning of the Congress, which represents millions of people across the state and level a mindless allegation against it is not the DGP's business. He should restrict his business to policing," Amarinder Singh stated.Saini, while justifying the Punjab Police inaction in the Faridkot case, denied the Congress leaders' allegations and said: "It is definitely my business if facts are deliberately distorted and the issue of a minor girl is used to further personal interests, resulting in hindrance to investigations. Capt. Singh should look at the blatant matter in which he repeatedly maligned the minor girl and attempted to make the issue into a virtual public spectacle."
An angry Amarinder Singh retorted: "I have been the chief minister and home minister of Punjab for five years and know how the police function. You should refrain from making statements about the Congress' functioning and leave that job to me. A public servant must act in accordance with set service rules and not by breaching discipline or exceeding his brief."
Not to be left behind, Saini came out with another one: "Capt. Amarinder Singh's statement is distasteful. I again advise him to be ethical. I would not like to waste more time on this."
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)