The Delhi Police said they were not informed of Bagga’s arrest and lodged a kidnapping case against the Punjab cops. The Punjab Police team was subsequently halted in Haryana by the local police, who handed Bagga over to Delhi cops.
The case will be heard on Saturday.
“The Delhi Police took Bagga and went back, further action will be taken. We have not arrested or detained anybody from Punjab Police. They didn’t intimate Delhi police before arresting him and themselves took him into custody. The case will be heard on Saturday at 10am,” said ASG Satya Pal Jain.
Here’s how events unfolded:
Friday morning arrest
Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga (36), Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national secretary, was on Friday arrested from his Janakpuri residence in Delhi by Punjab Police.
Around 50 cops in 10-12 vehicles came to arrest Bagga from his residence.
However the team, while taking Bagga to Mohali by road, was stopped near Kurukshetra by the Haryana Police.
Asked why the Punjab police team had been stopped, a Haryana police official said there was information that Bagga had been “forcibly” picked up from his residence. “We have to verify and crosscheck these things,” he said.
Vehicles bringing Bagga from Delhi to Mohali were taken to a police station in Kurukshetra’s Pipli.
SSP of Punjab’s SAS Nagar has written to his Kurukshetra counterpart, seeking release of the detained police personnel.
The Punjab government filed a habeas corpus petition before the Punjab and Haryana high court alleging illegal detention of its police personnel by Haryana. The petition was dismissed by the court.
Haryana Police handed over Bagga to a team of Delhi Police who reached Kurukshetra from the national capital. He was brought back to the city late on Friday afternoon. Bagga will be produced before a Delhi court.
Delhi Police file kidnapping case
Questions have been raised about the manner of arrest of Tajinder Bagga.
Delhi Police, which is under the Union Home ministry, registered a case of kidnapping based on a complaint by Bagga’s father that some people came to his house in Delhi’s Janakpuri around 8 am and took away his son.
“Today morning, police personnel came to our home and dragged Tajinder out. When I picked up my mobile phone to record a video of the incident, police took me to another room and punched me in the face,” said Preetpal Singh Bagga, father of Tajinder Pal Bagga. He even alleged the policemen did not even allow his son to wear a turban while they were arresting him.
Punjab Police however said Bagga (36) was arrested from his home in Delhi’s Janakpuri following due process of law.
“On Friday morning, by following due process of law, the accused has been arrested from his home in Janakpuri, New Delhi. He is being brought to Punjab and will be produced before a court,” a statement by Punjab Police said.
‘Arrested for not joining investigation’
Last month, the Punjab Police booked Bagga on the charges of making provocative statements, promoting enmity and criminal intimidation. The case was registered on a complaint of AAP leader Sunny Ahluwalia, a resident of Mohali.
Punjab Police claimed that despite being served five notices, he did not join the investigation.
“The accused was served five notices under Sections 41 A CrPC to come and join the investigation. The notices dated April 9, 11, 15, 22 and 28 were duly served upon. Despite that, the accused deliberately did not join the investigation,” the statement said.
The FIR against Bagga was registered under relevant IPC sections, including 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place, etc.), 505 (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
Bagga has been attacking Delhi chief minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal for his remarks on ‘The Kashmir Files’.
Politics over arrest
BJP has said Bagga was arrested from Delhi illegally by Punjab police. The party cited a Delhi High court ruling which says arrest can’t be done without informing the local police, and alleged procedural lapses.
“BJYM will do everything in our capacity to bring Bagga back to safety and liberty,” party MP Tejasvi Surya tweeted.
BJP workers protested against Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Police outside Janakpuri police station.
AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj however defended the Punjab Police action.
“Tajinder Bagga tweets to instigate violence in Punjab; it means BJP leaders in Delhi trying to spread communal violence in Punjab. Punjab Police working to maintain peace in the state. Delhi Police and Haryana Police trying to protect such gundas,” he said.
AAP, BJP trade charges
The BJP has accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of pursuing politics of vendetta while the AAP leader has contended that Bagga was held for trying to stoke communal tension and violence in Punjab.
Delhi BJP leaders and workers headed by state president Adesh Gupta staged a protest against Bagga’s arrest outside the AAP headquarters on DDU Marg. “The BJP workers are not going to be scared by the Kejriwal government’s hooliganism and autocratic attitude. We will not stop and will give a befitting reply to any injustice,” Gupta said.
The party accused Punjab Police of “abducting” its leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, and alleged that Kejriwal is pursuing vendetta through the state police.
The Delhi BJP leaders, including Gupta, slammed Kejriwal and said Bagga had been picked up for “unmasking” his lies.
The Delhi chief minister had claimed that his party will get back at those targeting it once it gets control over police, Gupta said.
“It is said that if you want to see someone’s real face, give that person power. The real character and face of Kejriwal has now come to the fore,” he said.
On its part, the AAP claimed Bagga was arrested from Delhi for trying to stoke communal tension and violence in the border state and rejected the BJP’s charge of vendetta. Though AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj referred to the clashes in Patiala on April 29, the Punjab Police said it arrested the Delhi BJP spokesperson from his residence in the national capital in connection with a case registered in Mohali on April 1.
Defending the Punjab Police’s action, Bharadwaj told a press conference that the state police registered a case against Bagga last month after the BJP leader, through his social media posts, “tried to create communal tension and incite violence in the state”.
“Because of such statements, the Punjab Police lodged an FIR and now arrested Bagga. His statements were communal in nature. A lot of BJP-linked people were instigating the violence in Patiala,” Bhardwaj alleged.
Meanwhile, the Congress accused the BJP and the AAP of conducting “experiments” to deter people from asking questions using the police and said their “modus operandi” is the same.
Asked about the arrest of Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani earlier and of Bagga on Friday, Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh hit out at the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, saying first the “holding company” arrested Mevani and then the “subsidiary company” arrested Bagga.
“Understand the chronology, this is not ‘sanyog (coincidence) but a proyog (experiment). This is a ‘proyog’ to tell you that if you ask questions you will be arrested. This is a ‘prayog’ to say that we are not their (BJP’s) B-team,” Vallabh said.
“But you (AAP) are their (the BJP’s) B-team because you both have the same modus operandi,” he alleged.
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar weighed in on the issue later in the evening.
“They picked him up (Tajinder Bagga) from his home at 5 am. His father filed FIR (in Delhi) that he has been kidnapped by some people who took him away in a vehicle. Delhi Police informed Haryana Police that people from Punjab picked him up,” said Khattar.
“Haryana Police became alert & stopped them in Kurukshetra, near Pipli. Since we had information from Delhi it was our duty to hand them over to Delhi Police. Amid this, they revealed their identity that they’re Punjab Police & are taking him with them. We did our work,” he said, adding: “Punjab Police said that they will approach the court, it is up to them. Ultimately, Haryana Police handed them over to Delhi Police. Both Punjab and Delhi Police can take it from there.”
He went on to say that procedure wasn’t followed. “It’s a political issue as during polls Bagga had delivered speeches. Speeches normally include political content and blame against each other. If something happens, EC takes cognisance and then police looks into it,” said the Haryana CM. “Political issues don’t unfold like this. But forcing Punjab Police to pick up a political figure in this manner … there should at least be a little amiability. If enmity between political parties rises like this, there’ll be problems. This shouldn’t have been done,” he added.
Meanwhile, Haryana home minister Anil Vij said: “Tajinder Bagga was kidnapped and taken to Punjab … we then handed him over to the Delhi Police. Punjab has become a torture house for AAP. Why’s every case being registered in Punjab? Even Delhi can register cases.”
(With agency inputs)