Badal sets up team to probe assault on IAS officer

Chandigarh, June 26 (IANS) With the assault on Punjab-cadre IAS officer Kahan Singh Pannu in Uttarakhand being condemned in all quarters, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday ordered the setting up a special team for the incident's probe.

Badal called Punjab's Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini and asked him to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to get to the root of the incident.

The chief minister Wednesday wrote to his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna seeking his personal intervention "for initiating prompt police and legal action against the guilty involved in this unsavoury incident".

Pannu, a special secretary rank officer and presently director general of school education, was leading rescue operations in Uttarakhand on behalf of the Punjab government when assaulted Monday by a group of stranded pilgrims in Govind Ghat.

The incident was sparked by an alleged argument over shifting pilgrims to another place.

Pannu was chased, slapped, punched and beaten with shoes and even a broom. The entire incident was video-graphed by a person and uploaded on the Internet.

Describing the assault on Pannu as "an attack on the Punjab government", Badal said that his government regarded the incident as "an act of extreme provocation, requiring prompt and effective government response, treating it with the gravity that it deserves". He said that he was "personally anguished" over the incident.

Pannu, an upright and action-oriented officer, was specially picked up by the Badal government for the rescue operations in Uttarakhand as thousands of pilgrims from Punjab were stranded at Sikh shrine of Hemkund Sahib there.

Badal assured a delegation of the Punjab IAS officers association that those responsible for the assault on Pannu would face the consequences.

Badal said: "Mr. Pannu is one of our finest officers and he was performing a most difficult and challenging task with extreme personal courage, deep commitment and commendable professional competence.

"In doing so, Mr. Pannu displayed remarkable personal character, braving extreme odds at considerable personal risk. The officer went far above and beyond the call of his duty, for which all those trapped in the calamity are rightly proud of and obliged to him."

Badal Tuesday expressed his dismay to Bahuguna at the inadequate security provided to officials engaged in rescue work in the hill state.

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