Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga’s arrest by Punjab Police sets off drama

The arrest of BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga by the Punjab police, where the Aam Aadmi Party is in power and his subsequent handing over to the Delhi Police by the Haryana police, the State ruled by the BJP, on Friday triggered a major face-off and political controversy.

While the BJP and the Congress hit out at the AAP, accusing it of involving in political vendetta, which their leaders said ‘humiliated Punjab Police’, the AAP hit back saying that under the BJP’s leadership, the Delhi Police and the Haryana Police acted in an unlawful way.

Punjab Police arrested Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga from his residence in Delhi on May 6, 2022 in connection with a case registered against him in Mohali. Photo: Twitter/@AAPNareshBalyan via PTI

Punjab Police arrested Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga from his residence in Delhi on May 6, 2022 in connection with a case registered against him in Mohali. Photo: Twitter/@AAPNareshBalyan via PTI

The Punjab police on Saturday morning arrested Mr. Bagga from his residence in Delhi in connection with an alleged inflammatory communal remarks through social media and interviews.

The Delhi Police registered an FIR following the arrest of Mr. Bagga on a complaint filed by Mr. Bagga’s father, Preet Pal Singh Bagga, who said he was manhandled and abducted by those who came to make the arrest. The FIR has been filed under Section 452, 356, 392. 359A and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which includes sections of robbery, abduction and house trespass among others.

According to the Delhi Police after the FIR, a wireless message was flashed and the said vehicle ferrying Mr. Bagga was intercepted by the Haryana police at Kurukshetra. “A search warrant was obtained from the concerned Dwarka court of Delhi, based on which the assistance of the Kurukshetra District police was taken to trace and recover the abducted victim. He is being brought to Delhi to be produced before the concerned court as per law,” DCP (west) Ghanshyam Bansal said.

As the Punjab police were on their way to Mohali with Mr. Bagga, the police party was stopped by the Haryana Police on the Karnal-Kurukshetra highway. The Punjab police alleged that it was an act of illegal detention. “… this tantamount to illegal detention and interference in administration of criminal justice system.” wrote Senior Superintendent of Police (SAS Nagar) in a letter to Senior Superintendent of Police (Kurukshetra) and demanded the police party, alongwith the arrested accused, may be released.

Later, the Haryana police handed over Mr. Bagga to the Delhi Police. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal told reporters that the Delhi Police had informed the Haryana police (after the FIR was lodged) that Mr. Bagga has been abducted by some people from Punjab, who have taken him in a vehicle. “Our police were alert and they stopped them near Pipli. It was our duty to hand them over to the Delhi Police. During this, they revealed their identities that they were Punjab police personnel,” he said.

The Punjab government filed a habeas corpus petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging the detention of its police officials. While the court would hear the matter on May 7, it turned down the Punjab government’s request not to give Mr. Bagga’s custody to the Delhi Police and keep him in Haryana.

The Punjab police, in a statement, said that an FIR was registered against Mr. Bagga on April 1, 2022 under sections 153A,505,505(2),506 of the Indian Penal Code at the Punjab State Cyber Crime wing at Mohali in S.A.S Nagar district. He has been accused of causing instigation-incitement-criminal intimidation to cause violence, use of force, and imminent hurt in a predesigned and orchestrated manner by making-publishing provocative, false and communal inflammatory statements through his interview given to media and through his posts on Twitter, according to the statement.

The police said Mr. Bagga was served five notices under section 41 A of the CrPC to come and join the investigation. But despite the notices, the accused deliberately did not join the investigation. “Today (April 6) morning, following due process of law, the accused has been arrested from his home in Janakpuri, New Delhi. He is being brought here and will be produced in court. Further investigation is on,” said the statement.

Mother’s charge

Kamaljeet Kaur, mother of Tajinder Bagga, spoke to The Hindu, where she alleged that around 7.30 a.m., her husband and her son were at their residence when some persons barged in, wearing civil uniform, and manhandled the duo. While Mr. Bagga’s father tried taking a video of the arrest, the group didn’t let him, and he was hit in the face later on, following which his phone was taken away by the group of people. She alleged that the group didn’t let Mr. Bagga wear his turban, “Tajinder asked them for a cloth to cover his head but they dragged him outside,” she said. “Nobody can be taken away like that, there are certain protocols that need to be followed with some decency,” she added.

The Delhi Police, however, claimed that they were not informed regarding Mr. Bagga’s arrest from his residence.

In Delhi, BJP members held a protest outside the AAP headquarters, accusing the AAP of misusing the government machinery and the Punjab police. Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said: “If Punjab police had to take action, there is certain procedure and it should have informed the Delhi Police in advance, which would have in turn only helped its Punjab counterpart. But the whole action seems to have been taken with a feeling of personal revenge and Punjab cops acted like thieves in abducting him.”

‘Due procedure followed’

On the other hand, calling Mr. Bagga as someone who “incites riots”, AAP spokesperson Atishi said the Punjab police had followed due procedure and five summons were sent to Mr. Bagga to join the investigation, but he did not. After it, the Punjab police issued an arrest warrant against him. She alleged that under the BJP’s leadership, the Delhi Police and the Haryana police acted in an unlawful way.

The AAP leader also alleged that when the Punjab police personnel went to inform the Delhi Police about Mr. Bagga’s case, they were detained illegally by the Delhi Police at a city police station.

Hitting out at the AAP, leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Congress’s Partap Singh Bajwa said on Twitter, “I urge @BhagwantMannji to not reduce our Punjab Police officers to private militia of Arvind Kejriwal. The whole spectacle of arresting BJP spokesperson Tajinder Bagga is nothing but vendetta politics by AAP bosses in Delhi. Focus on governance not pleasing your masters in Delhi.”

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal condemned the incident, saying “at a time when the law and order position in Punjab was its worst and communal harmony was in disarray, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had sublet the police force to AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal to help the latter in settling his petty personal scores.”

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