Did Haryana Police stop the Punjab Police team taking BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga to Mohali even before Delhi Police registered an FIR under charges of kidnapping?
A look at the timeline of Friday’s dramatic cat-and-mouse game suggests so, raising questions on whether legal processes were bypassed for political objectives.
According to Delhi Police, they received a complaint of kidnapping from Mr Bagga’s father at 12.35 pm yesterday and the FIR was registered at 12.41 pm. Thereafter, they moved the Dwarka court for a search warrant and alerted police in neighbouring Haryana.
“Learned Additional Solicitor General of India submits that in pursuant to registration of FIR No.327 dated 06.05.2022, as detailed above, at the instance of Preetpal Singh Bagga, father of Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga, search warrant to effect appearance of said Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga was obtained from Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, and further wireless message was flashed to intercept and trace the abducted person,” reads the Punjab and Haryana High Court order.
Haryana Police have claimed that they stopped the vehicle taking Mr Bagga to Mohali after receiving a message from Delhi Police.
Punjab Police officers have, however, claimed that they were stopped by Haryana Police near Kurukshetra around 11.30 am – an hour before the complaint was registered.
The dramatic showdown that saw three governments flexing their police arm started at 5 am yesterday when Mr Bagga was taken into custody from his Delhi home for a tweet targeting Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal. The Punjab Police team on its way to Mohali was stopped at Kurukshetra by Haryana Police.
Soon after, Delhi Police officers reached there and brought Mr Bagga back, the BJP leader flashing the victory sign as he changed vehicles. Late last night, a Delhi court asked Delhi Police to provide security to the BJP leader who returned home to a grand welcome by party supporters. His statement will be recorded before a magistrate Monday.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said Haryana Police acted on an alert from their Delhi counterparts. “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 are from Punjab Police and are taking him (Bagga) with them. We did our work,” Mr Khattar told news agency ANI.
Leaders of AAP, which has lately been accused of using Punjab Police to target political rivals and critics of Mr Kejriwal, have defended the action against Mr Bagga and said the BJP leader was taken into custody after he refused to cooperate in the probe against him and ignored five notices.
AAP’s MLA Atishi described Mr Bagga as a “goonda, lafanga, dangai (criminal, loafer and rioter). Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said they had collected information about Mr Bagga and that he used “obscene, toxic and hateful language” on social media. Mr Bhardwaj stressed that “there is no vendetta” behind the police action.
Speaking to ANI this morning, Mr Bagga alleged that the Punjab Police team did not show him any warrant before picking him up. “When nearly eight people picked me up, I told them to let me tie my turban. They did not give me the chance to wear the turban and slippers. I was thrown into the vehicle. I was kidnapped by the Punjab police. The local police were also not informed. Nearly 50 policemen came as they do it with a terrorist,” he said.
“Nearly 10 police vehicles had come which can be seen in the CCTV footage. It is an attempt to send a message that whosoever speaks against Arvind Kejriwal would be tagged the biggest terrorist and will not be spared,” said Mr Bagga.