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Sumedh Saini — KPS Gill protege & former Punjab top cop who’s being hunted by force he headed

A 1982-batch IPS officer, Saini had been on the run for 15 days in a 29-year-old case of abduction and murder of a Sikh youth during the militancy years in Punjab.

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Chandigarh: The top IPS officer who tackled militancy in Punjab with an ‘iron fist’, the state’s youngest ever director general of police (DGP) and now a wanted man.

The 1982-batch IPS officer and former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini had been on the run for 15 days from the very police force he once commanded until Tuesday when the Supreme Court stayed his arrest.

Saini is wanted by the Punjab Police in a 29-year-old case of abduction and murder of a Sikh youth during the days of militancy in Punjab.

Multiple police teams of the Punjab Police had raided various residences of Saini in Punjab, Himachal and New Delhi, but the decorated police officer whose mere mention evoked terror among militants, managed to elude the police.

A Mohali court had on 11 September issued non-bailable warrants against Saini after the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea on 8 September. But the Supreme Court Tuesday stayed his arrest until further orders.

Saini has in his defence before the courts termed the entire exercise as a “political and personal witch hunt” launched at the behest of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who, he alleges is motivated by a “strong animus” against him.

But the officer’s career has been as controversial as it has been decorated.


Also read: Murder & robbery case of Suresh Raina’s relatives solved, 3 arrested, says Punjab Police


The rise and fall

A protege of the celebrated IPS officer K.P.S. Gill, Saini’s image in the state is that of a strong and brave officer who took on terror with an iron hand but one given to excesses, arrogance and misuse of power.

Saini was also once a trusted officer of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh but he lost his backing in 2005 during Amarinder’s first tenure as chief minister.

Saini gravitated towards the Badals and, at 54, became the youngest DGP of the state in 2012 when Prakash Singh Badal heading the Shiromani Akali Dal- BJP had retained power in the state.

Saini was removed from the post in 2018 after police fired at and killed two Sikh youth participating in a protest against the incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib. The incident had severe political ramifications and continues to haunt the Badals and Saini, who are jointly facing multiple probes ordered by Amarinder’s Congress government in the state.

After 36 years of service Saini retired in June 2018. He was awarded the President’s Police Medal for gallantry and The Wound Medal (Parakram medal). However, he is neither new to controversy nor is this his first brush with the law.


Also read: ‘Disappearance’ of Guru Granth Sahib saroops triggers row in Punjab as SGPC opposes FIR


Multani case

Saini along with six others was booked in May this year for the 1991 abduction and murder of Balwant Singh Multani, an IAS officer’s son, when Saini was the senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh.

An assassination attempt was made on Saini in August 1991. A powerful bomb blast rocked Saini’s official car that led to the death of three of his aides. Saini himself survived the blast with grievous injuries.

Multani was said to have helped the main accused in the case, Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, and was arrested in December 1991. He was subsequently shown as “escaped from police custody” and declared a proclaimed offender.

The May FIR against Saini is based on a complaint filed by Multani’s brother Palwinder Singh, 29 years after his disappearance. The case has been registered under sections 364 (kidnap or abduction in order to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), and 344 (wrongful confinement of 10 or more days), of the IPC.

Two among the others nominated in the FIR turned approvers and have deposed against Saini following which murder charges (Section 302) were added to the FIR.

Saini’s anticipatory bail petition was dismissed by the sessions court in Mohali on 1 September and by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 8 September before the Supreme Court stayed his arrest Tuesday.


Also read: ‘Intimidation’ or conflict? HC remark on judges’ recusal in Punjab ex-DGP case sparks debate


The Saini Motors case

The Multani case isn’t the only legal trouble that Saini is facing.

In 1994, when Saini was SSP, Ludhiana, he and three other policemen were booked by the CBI for the alleged kidnapping and disappearance of three Ludhiana residents — Vinod Kumar, his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and their driver Mukhtiar Singh.

Vinod and Ashok were financing an automobile dealership — Saini Motors — owned by the IPS officer’s close relatives. It was alleged that Saini had fallen out with his relatives and enmity towards Saini Motors extended to those financing the company.

The CBI filed the challan in the case in 2000. In 2004, the case was shifted to Delhi on the orders of the Supreme Court. In January 2007, the trial court framed charges against Saini. The charges were framed under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 342 (wrongful confinement), 343 (wrongful confinement for more than three days) and 364 (kidnapping) of the IPC.

The trial in the case is still underway despite being fast tracked in 2015. Vinod’s brother Ashish Kumar has been fighting the case now for over 26 years.

Last year, Dharampal Singh, 78, the CBI superintendent of police who was the investigating officer in the case, turned hostile refusing to support the prosecution. During his cross examination he pleaded that he had forgotten most of the case.

The case was last heard on 10 September when the CBI and the complainant moved an application seeking revocation of exemption granted to Saini from personal appearance in the case.

PPSC scam & fallout with Amarinder

As IG (intelligence) in 2002, Saini played a pivotal role in unearthing the infamous Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) cash-for-jobs scam. The PPSC was then chaired by former journalist Ravi Sidhu. Saini had led the trap against Sidhu and as crores tumbled out of Sidhu’s bank lockers, the scam hit national headlines.

Saini was then a close aide of Amarinder who was serving his first tenure as chief minister. As Saini dug deeper, the involvement of high court judges emerged in the case. The then chief justice of the high court permitted Saini to conduct a probe into the role played by judges. On Saini’s report, work was withdrawn from three judges of the high court.

Much to Saini’s disliking, however, Amarinder suddenly shifted him out of intelligence and the IPS officer remained sidelined for the rest of the chief minister’s tenure.

When in 2007 Saini was made the vigilance bureau chief during the Akali regime, Saini booked Amarinder and his son Raninder for corruption in the Ludhiana City Centre scam. Amarinder was acquitted in the case only last year.

In the Multani case, the Amarinder-led Congress government is fully backing the complainant.


Also read: Punjab sees highest Covid fatality rate, govt blames people for seeking treatment too late


Nayagaon rape case & feud with Virk

Another prominent aspect of Saini’s career was his relationship with another former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk.

Once best friends, Saini and Virk fell out over the infamous Nayagaon rape case of 2005.

In August 2005, Saini who was heading a special investigating team set up by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to probe a rape case, picked up a journalist of a leading national daily as part of the investigation. All hell broke loose over the arrest as journalist bodies met Amarinder (then serving his first term as CM) baying for Saini’s blood.

Cornered, Saini had hoped that Virk, the then DGP, would come to his rescue.

Virk instead of defending Saini’s move, ensured that the journalist was released on bail. Virk also rebuked Saini for having picked up the journalist despite not having adequate evidence against him.

Saini and Virk who were close family friends up until then never spoke to each other again.

In 2007 as vigilance chief, Saini booked Virk and got him arrested on charges of corruption and amassing disproportionate assets. Virk was then posted in his parent cadre Maharashtra. In 2017, the vigilance bureau filed a cancellation in the case finding no evidence against Virk.

In the Multani case, Virk’s son Pradeep, an advocate, is representing Multani’s brother.


Also read: AAP sets sights on 2022 Punjab polls with attacks on Amarinder over Covid crisis


 

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. We all Punjabis, especially politicians and Indians in general should hang out heads in shame the the Mr. Saini is being hunted down.
    Punjab politicians accross party lines enjoyed n are enjoying power due to the enormous personal risks undertaken by the police force during the 80s n ,90s. Situation was brought under control due political will of Beant Singh Ji and tough leadership of KPS Gill Ji and his colleagues like SS Virk , S Saini the list goes on n on.
    Baddals, Amrinder, Virk’s n Saini all shud rise above petty enimmities n differences n ensure that Mr. Saini is not humiliated.
    In fact keeping in view his sacrifices to the state n nation courts should award permanent stay on his arrest warrants. Punjab DGP present n future shud remember that their seniors of those decades are honoured not humiliated this way…

    • Are you supporter of this murderer who is killed many Sikh youths in fake encounters.Just to make his name and get medals.

      • As they say little knowledge is dangerous..people have forgotten the good deeds done by police…when.your life was in.danger and a few officers came out to protect you and your family then they were heroes
        Now when.all is peace and quiet heroes are.killers!!
        Yes they made mistake of not staying safe in.their offices and carry on.drawing fat salaries..and leave people to die..Yes we agrew they were in.wrong..

        • A Good scoop once Again by Miss Sethi who Has Covered Different Stages Of The Story. the Terrorism era Of The Punjab Has become a business For those uneducated immigrants From The State who lied And Cheated There Way Into getting Asylum In Some western Countrys During The Late 80s And Early 1990s, When Presidents Rule Ended On 25th Feb 1992 And Mr Beant Singh Became the chief Minister of Although a Minority Govt it Was a Very effective One. Cowards Like the Badals/majithias and others who Are Today In The Congress/Bjp were political Nothings In Those Times Even those Two Faced People From The Rural areas who Didnt Vote in 1992 jumped on The Bandwagon Getting There Work Done By The New Govt and Police. today Those Termites Speak a Very Different Language innocents Did Die From All Backgrounds But There Was Good/Bad In All Camps Govt/Police/Militants/.General Public.

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