The Curious Case of ‘A Missing List’
The nightmarish terrorist action in Pathankot which came in the backdrop of a similar act in Dinanagar, haunt me and almost an audible whisper continues to torment me. “Kaka jee, estra dee gallan kagaz te nahi likhian jandi. Tussi eh sab kuch mannu zubani dass sakde see” (Such things are not brought into writing, you could have verbally told me about it). These words coming from the mouth of Parkash Singh Badal, the incumbent Chief Minister of Punjab, way back in 2007, had sent a rage down my spine.
Replacing Congress, SAD-BJP government had just come in power in Punjab after 2007 Assembly elections. Immediately thereafter, I was summoned by Sukhbir Singh Badal, the incumbent Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, to his house in sector 9, Chandigarh. I had known him for years and every one, somehow or the other, perceived me to be close to him. He was neither the party president nor the Deputy Chief Minister at that point of time. He introduced me to his dad, the Chief Minister elect Parkash Singh Badal saying all good things about me and declaring that I was to be head of the Intelligence Wing of the Punjab Police and being an ‘activist officer with a sound intelligence background’, I could help them ushering in a new era of clean administration which would help them ‘remaining in power for atleast next twenty five years’.
I was a fool to have literally accepted his words, failing to realize that despite being a friend, he was first a politician and that too under the shadow of his father, an astute politician. By the end of the first week of March 2007, I was in saddle as the head of the Intelligence Wing of Punjab police. Soon, I was summoned to the Safdarjang Road residence of Sukhbir, in Delhi, where an idealistic him and his lady wife, Harsimrat Badal warmly received me. They were bubbling with happiness with vision of a corruption free developing Punjab which could become the premier state of the country.
I briefed them at length and mutually drew up an action plan. Coming back to Chandigarh, in consultation with my I.G.P. Viresh Bhawra and DIG Varinder kumar, we started compiling lists of black marketeers, land mafia, corrupt officials and politicians, drug dons and barons etc. besides conducting numerous other exercises. Information about our activities in the intelligence wing spread out like a wild fire and there was panic in bureaucratic, police, political and all other concerned circles which were under our scrutiny. Enquiries poured in but we had our mouths closely shut. People, on whom axe was likely to fall, began queuing up in office of the chief minister and houses of Sukhbir in Chandigarh and in Delhi. Reaction from the Chief Minister and his son, were different; where as the Chief Minister was worried about the political impact, Sukhbir was upbeat.
Being on same page with the latter, I kept him informed. Soon my proximity to him and his wife became a cause of envy and I became an eyesore in general. I was not worried because Sukhbir told me not to bother about the efforts of various quarters, including politicians and my colleagues in police and in bureaucracy, to poison chief ministerial ears. Sukhbir was kept informed about our work since the Chief Minister had ordered that. All was good till we informed him about startling information about increased inflow of drugs, its addictions and people responsible for smuggling. This information compiled from interrogation reports, field intelligence, and information received from sister agencies in the central government besides some belonging to the armed forces etc, startled him. He asked me to take detailed information including list containing names of top drug smugglers and dons of Punjab, to the chief minister personally. It was a four page, single spaced and running into four pages. It was almost a ‘Who is Who’ of Punjab and contained names of a number of politicians, including some sitting and former ministers /MsLA, officials belong to the security forces including police, civil and other officers, civilians and even front organizations. It emitted high voltage.
I took this list to the Chief Minister and briefed him. He lost colour on reading the list and then there came the whispering snarl, “Kakaji …” He kept holding the list for quite some time in hushed silence and then ordered me to leave. The list never saw light of the day there after and my meetings with him declined leading to my booting out of the department in due course.
The list, however, remains the most sought after document in the state with even the High Court of Punjab and Haryana seeking it and strange statements from the Punjab government, ranging from ‘The List Does Not Exist’ to ‘It Is Not Traceable’ to ‘It Is Not On Record’ to ‘ It Has Been Tempered With.’
And ‘The Curious Case of A Missing List’, which sound like a Sherlock Holmes mystery goes on. Had the list been acted upon, an entire generation would not have got lost in Punjab, it would not have become a hub of drugs, there would not have been infiltrations through Punjab, there would not have been ‘sleeper cells’ of ISI and terrorists and there would have been no Dina Nagars and Pathankots.
And the Quint story on it