Officer’s suspension linked to ministers’ rivalry, not ASI murder in Amritsar

Days after a senior IPS officer in Amritsar was mysteriously suspended, it has emerged that he might have been felled in a turf war between two senior cabinet ministers from the same border area. The suspension is now likely to be reversed, sources said.

Initial reports about the suspension of DIG (Border Range) Paramraj Singh Umranangal had linked the action to the murder of an assistant sub-inspector of police by a local Akali Dal leader in Amritsar on December 5.

A terse notification issued by the state home department on Sunday had said that "he (Umranangal) has been suspended for not performing his duties efficiently and he has created indiscipline in the border range". Several media reports had attributed Umranangal's suspension to his alleged "negligent" handling of the murder.

It now appears that the real story goes back about a month, to a clash between two groups in Umranangal's area. These groups, sources said, were backed by two powerful rival ministers. It seems that during the assembly polls this January, one group had worked against an MLA from the area, who was nevertheless re-elected. Subsequently this MLA, supported by a cabinet minister, moved to "fix" the antagonist group, which sought the "protection" of the other cabinet minister.

"One person was injured in firing during the clash. Both ministers pressured the police — one seeking that no case be registered; the other demanding the arrest of the culprits. Finally, a compromise was struck — and the police, led by Umranangal, registered a case of attempt to murder, but tried to placate the other minister by not arresting the accused," a source said.

When the matter reached Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, he ordered the officer's suspension.

However, sources said, DGP S S Saini on Monday explained the full facts of the case to the deputy chief minister, who is believed to have been convinced. Asked if this meant Umranangal's suspension would be revoked, a senior home department officer said, "The formal orders are yet not issued."

Umranangal was recently in a controversy after he, along with Faridkot SSP G S Dhillon, released pictures of a minor girl who had been abducted by one Nishan Singh, whom she subsequently married. Umranangal also faces inquiries in alleged fake encounter cases.

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