CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government today rejected the charge of unauthorised tapping of phones of certain opposition leaders and claimed that the FIR against Congress candidate Hardev Singh Laddi Sherowalia for Shahkot by-poll is a major "political conspiracy" against it.
On May 4, Laddi and two others were booked by police for alleged illegal sand mining in different villages of Jalandhar district.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had yesterday alleged that the Mehatpur SHO, who registered against Laddi, was upset over his earlier transfer and is in touch with AAP's Sukhpal Singh Khaira and SAD's Daljit Cheema and the FIR against Hardev Singh Laddi appeared to be a fallout of the same.
An official spokesperson in a release today urged the Election Commission to take cognizance of the government's request for immediate transfer of Mehatpur SHO in the interest of free and fair bypoll.
The spokesperson claimed the recent developments in the constituency had "exposed the nexus" between the SHO and leaders belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
He alleged that the SHO had himself been "heard bragging" to his colleagues and friends about his conversations with AAP's Sukhpal Singh Khaira and SAD's Daljeet Cheema.
The spokesperson claimed that all allegations of phone tapping in this regard were totally "false and baseless".
Khaira took exception to the charges and had reportedly accused the chief minister of tapping of phones of opposition leaders.
The spokesperson said the government had never indulged in any such illegal acts involving violation of the privacy and human rights of individuals, nor would do so under any circumstances.
He further said 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 the Akali and AAP leadership.
"It was evident from Khaira's response that the conversation cited by the chief minister had indeed taken place, as the SHO himself had been found talking about it to all and sundry," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson claimed that the SHO's role in the entire episode had been questionable from the very outset, considering the undue haste with which he had filed the FIR against Laadi instead of merely initiating an inquiry, as directed by the Election Commission.
He also requested the EC to order a thorough probe into the SHO's antecedents and conduct, which had clearly "lowered" the public image of the state police and administration.
The spokesperson further urged the EC to investigate reports of the SHO issuing reported threats to media persons in a bid to prevent them from doing their duty in a free and fair manner.
The government, said the spokesperson, was all for a fair and transparent inquiry into the charges against the Congress candidate, as per the EC's instructions, but it was evident from the events of the last few days that the SHO was "playing into the hands of political leaders with vested interests".
It was obvious that the SHO was not interested in a fair probe but was "keen to oust" the Congress candidate from the electoral race by "hook or by crook" and he was acting in "cahoots" with the Opposition, said the spokesperson.