Hours after he was booked in an attempt to murder case after poll violence in his constituency Atam Nagar, Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains was arrested by the Ludhiana police Tuesday based on a complaint filed by Congress nominee Kamaljit Karwal’s aide.
Panic had gripped Daba road area late on Monday after supporters of Bains and Karwal resorted to violence and also allegedly opened fire with their weapons. A contingent of heavy police force was deployed in the area after the incident. Police later booked MLA Bains, his son Ajaypreet Bains and 100-150 other supporters for allegedly opening fire at Karwal.
On Tuesday, a team led by JCP (Rural) Ravcharan Brar arrested Bains from the district court complex where he had arrived to address a meeting of advocates.
The arrest, however, did not come easy. High drama played out when the police party reached to arrest Bains. His supporters, including women, laid on the ground in front of police vehicles and said that they won’t let police take him away.
JCP Brar said: “We have arrested Simarjeet Singh Bains who was booked for attempt to murder in poll violence incidence that happened last night on Daba road. He has joined investigation and further probe is on.”
Bains and his supporters were booked under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (mischief causing damage), 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to the order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC, sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act, 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 3 of Epidemic Diseases Act and 127 of the Representation of the People Act in an FIR registered at Shimlapuri police station.
Later in the evening, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, S Karuna Raju suspended Shimlapuri SHO, Sub-Inspector Labh Singh, for failing to act adequately in the incident. The CEO also issued orders to appoint Inspector Kulwant Singh as the new SHO.
A CEO office spokesperson said that as per report received from Commissioner of Police, Ludhiana, Labh Singh was present at the spot of clash but could not handle the situation. He further said Labh Singh had been suspended with immediate effect and transferred to police lines and a probe initiated.
ALLEGATIONS & COUNTERS
The FIR in the case was registered on the complaint of Gurwinder Singh Prinkle, an aide of Karwal. In his statement, Prinkle alleged that Bains, his son Ajaypreet, brothers Karamjit Bains and Paramjit Bains and a group of 100-150 other supporters allegedly attacked Karwal’s vehicle and opened fire with their revolver with an intention to kill him. Three vehicles were also vandalised in the incident.
Karwal too alleged that MLA Bains, his son and 25-30 other supporters openly attacked him and his supporters when they were about to conduct a poll meeting at his office on Daba road. He added that the MLA and his supporters were carrying firearms, swords, iron rods. At least, three persons received minor injuries in the attack, he claimed.
Karwal said, “MLA Bains and his son, Ajaypreet, were present and they were captured in videos. Bains has completely lost it because he knows he is going to lose the election this time. Out of frustration, he is attacking Congress workers now. How can such people be allowed to roam openly and indulge in hooliganism and violence.”
Meanwhile, speaking to the media at the court complex before his arrest, Bains said: “It was not us but Congress candidate Karwal, who in connivance with police, attacked us last night. They threw stones and soft drink bottles on our workers. Congress and SAD can join hands but they can never defeat Bains who always stands for the truth. Am I afraid of such FIRs? The day there was a bomb blast in the Ludhiana court complex, then also SAD candidate Harish Rai Dhanda openly blamed me for it without any evidence. Can they stoop lower than this? They are now trying to hijack free and fair election but Bains won’t let it happen at any cost.”
The MLA added: “They can arrest me, but they can never kill Bains’s ideology which is to stand against injustice and for the rights of the poor…It was Karwal and his supporters who opened fire, but instead of booking them, police has registered FIR against us. At least, 20 such persons who have been named in the FIR were not even present at the spot. Ludhiana police commissioner should conduct a fair inquiry. I will leave politics if it is proven otherwise.”
He also questioned the poll panel, saying: “I would like to ask Election Commission that is it them or the Congress government of Punjab which is conducting the polls?”
Bains said that his party “will file a PIL in the Supreme Court to get justice”, and added: “They can write whatever they want in the FIR…they can even write that I placed a bomb…I am not afraid of such FIRs because my voters trust me.”
Atam Nagar’s SAD candidate Harish Rai Dhanda, meanwhile, took out a ‘peace march’ in the constituency holding the placards with slogans ‘Jaago jaago, gundagardi tyaago’, ‘Gundagardi bhajao, Atam Nagar bachao’ among others.
Dhanda is the counsel of the woman who has filed rape case against Bains. Recently, the Supreme Court had stayed Bains’s arrest in rape case.
In the run-up to Punjab polls, this was the second major clash between both groups. Earlier on January 19, the supporters of both candidates had clashed over installing hoardings.
The Atam Nagar constituency has the highest number of sensitive polling stations in Ludhiana district.