Chandigarh: A deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Punjab Police, serving in the prisons department, has resigned from service in solidarity with the protesting farmers.
Capt. Lakhminder Singh Jakhar, who was posted in Chandigarh, was due to retire in 2022. In May this year, he was suspended pending an inquiry on corruption charges. He was, however, reinstated in September following a preliminary inquiry but continues to face a regular probe.
In his resignation letter submitted to the principal secretary home, department of jails, Saturday, Jakhar has written: “I Capt. Lakhminder Singh Jakhar, DIG, Prisons would like to inform you of my considered and introspective decision to stand with my farmer brothers who are peacefully protesting against the Farm Ordinances, 2020, which are detrimental to the interest of farmers and their future generations.”
“As I am myself a farmer by birth and same being inherited to me from my forefathers who tilled their agricultural lands with hands to grow food and serve mankind, I have always listened to my conscience and now I earnestly feel that I should stand by my brotherhood,” his letter adds. “I shall be depositing a sum equivalent to any amount of pay and allowances as required by the government in the treasury to exempt me from the stipulated time of advance notice. It is, therefore, requested that I may be treated as prematurely retired from service with effect from today that is 12th December, 2020.”
When contacted by ThePrint, Jakhar said he had resigned in support of the farmers’ agitation and that his quitting should not be in any way connected to his suspension or reinstatement.
“These are absolutely separate issues. I was suspended on 9 May this year. An inquiry was started against me even though there was no written complaint against me,” he said. “I was told there are charges of corruption involving Rs 10,000. After the completion of that inquiry I was reinstated on 14 September.”
Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa told ThePrint that Jakhar was suspended pending an inquiry against him following allegations of corruption. “After the end of the preliminary enquiry, he was chargesheeted,” Randhawa said. “He was reinstated as there is a time limit for keeping a person under suspension pending inquiry. A regular departmental inquiry against him is currently on.”
A pass out of the Punjab Public School, Nabha, Jakhar served in the army as a short service commission officer until 1994 when he joined the Punjab Police as a DSP.
“In 32 years of my service starting with the army there has never been a single complaint against me. Not even when I was suspended. But I don’t want to go into that right now,” he said. “I have resigned because I am the son of a farmer. We still have land in Abohar. My father worked on that land and from what he earned, he paid for my education. Unfortunately I lost my father years ago after which me and my mother have been taking care of our farmland. Even at the age of 81, she takes care of crops.”
“I believe that the decisions taken by the government of India are not in favour of the farmers and certainly not for the future of their sons, who have nothing to fall back upon except farming,” he added. “In resigning, I am showing my resentment. The farmers have been on the roads, out in the cold agitating peacefully.”
Jakhar had made headlines in 2012 when as the Patiala jail superintendent he had returned the death warrants of Balwant Singh Rajona lodged in his jail. Rajoana was convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
Facing contempt charges for the move, Jakhar had submitted that under the manual for the superintendent and management of prisons, a jail superintendent could return the warrants. The contempt proceedings were subsequently dropped against Jakhar.