With the opposition alleging that “political crimes” have risen in Punjab since the new Congress government took over, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced filling up of 4,000 positions lying vacant in Punjab police.

At a high-level meeting with top Home and police department officials, the Chief Minister also issued instructions to ensure that all vacancies in the vital police department, which is crucial to maintaining law and order in the state, be filled up on priority and on a regular basis.

Furthermore, Singh instructed that every year, 2,000 police personnel should be hired given a large number of vacancies that are created due to routine retirements.

The state witnessed continuous reports of gang wars, bank loots and gun fights that the opposition blamed on the new government and termed those as “political murders’, though such incidents had been taking place even during the Akalis’ regime.

Among most recent crimes that shook the state were the two incidents of Nabha jail break and the twin bank robberies with no leads into either the 30 January Maur terror attack or the assassination of Hindu leaders. Moreover, acquittals of various terrorists, including Harminder Mintoo and Ratandeep in big cases, revealed the shoddy probe by the police.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which lost the election, had described the situation as the “worst breakdown” of the law and order situation in the state, a charge that the Congress used to level against it just a few months ago.

SAD president Daljit Singh Cheema had said, “This is the worst law and order situation in Punjab in the last one decade. Political murders, bank dacoity, gang wars are the order of the day. Law and order is at its lowest ebb.” Cheema had been regularly updating a list of cases categorising them as “vendetta cases”, “crime cases”, “police excesses”, “extortion cases by Punjab police” and “harassment of SAD members by Congress leaders to control constitutional bodies”.

 In the backdrop of all the criticism, Captain Amarinder Singh initiated reforms in the department, including diversion of police personnel from VIP duty, and warned that his government would brook no delay in filling up of the vacancies.

Singh said, “Timely recruitment would also help in generating employment for youths in the state. The government is committed to fulfilling the poll promise to provide at least one job in each household. “

In the meeting, Singh also reviewed the progress on territorial restructuring of the police stations. The Chief Minister directed the officials to expedite the restructuring process of the police stations to delink them from the Assembly constituencies and unshackle the force from the political stranglehold, allegedly created by the previous SAD-BJP government.

Amarinder also stressed on the need to free the police from any kind of political or other interference in their functioning. His call to “give police a free hand in their functioning within the ambit of law” came at a time of a large number of transfers taking place in Punjab police since the Congress took power. The transfers had been so frequent that a police officer was transferred thrice within a span of 30 days.

The Punjab police spokesperson said, “The Department of Home is already working on a detailed proposal for police reforms, in the light of the Supreme Court directives, as laid down in the case of Parkash Singh and others, and also in view of the poll promises made by the Congress in Punjab.”

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