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Shahkot bypoll: Punjab denies phone-tapping, urges EC to transfer SHO

Election Commission of India (ECI). (File Photo: IANS)

Chandigarh, May 8 (IANS) Denying accusations of unauthorised tapping of phones ahead of bypoll in Shahkot assembly constituency, the Punjab government on Tuesday urged the Election Commission (EC) to transfer a police officer who had booked the Congress candidate on illegal mining charge.

The Congress government of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the EC to transfer Mehatpur SHO (Station House Officer) Parminder Pal Singh Bajwa “in the interest of free and fair bypoll” on May 28.

Accusing Bajwa of “indulging in partisanship and exercising political bias” in his conduct, a government spokesperson urged the EC to investigate reports on the SHO’s alleged threats to media persons who exposed his stay in a five-star hotel in Jalandhar just before the case against Hardev Singh Laddi and others was registered.

Bajwa last week registered a case of illegal mining against Congress candidate Laddi and others, within hours of announcement of his name as the ruling party candidate.

The spokesperson alleged a “major political conspiracy against the Congress government ahead of the by-election”.

The spokesperson said the developments in the constituency had “exposed a nexus between the SHO and certain Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) politicians”.

Both opposition parties had accused the state government of tapping phones illegally.

“The SHO had himself been heard bragging to his colleagues in the police station and to friends about his conversations with AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira and SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema,” the spokesperson said, adding that all allegations of phone tapping were totally false and baseless.

“The government had never indulged in any such illegal acts involving violation of the privacy and human rights of individuals, nor will it do so under any circumstances. The opposition had simply picked up a part of the Chief Minister’s statement to divert attention from the operative part of his remarks, which had exposed the blatant nexus of the SHO with senior Akali and AAP leadership,” he added.

The spokesperson claimed that the SHO’s role in the matter was questionable from the very outset, considering the undue haste with which he filed the FIR, instead of initiating an inquiry as directed by the EC.

Polling for the Shahkot seat will be held on May 28. The seat fell vacant following the death of Shiromani Akali Dal legislator Ajit Singh Kohar in February.

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