Punjab Police registers case in IAS officer's assault case

Chandigarh, June 28 (IANS) The Punjab Police Friday registered a case under the Information Technology (IT) Act following a complaint by senior IAS officer K.S. Pannu over the uploading of a video on social networking sites showing an assault on him in Uttarakhand.

In his complaint, Pannu has stated that "under a deep-rooted conspiracy, some mischievous persons, by uploading the video" of his manhandling at Govind Ghat in Uttarakhand on social networking sites (Youtube and Facebook) have defamed and insulted him in society and hurt his religious sentiments.

A Punjab Police spokesman said that on Pannu's complaint, an FIR has been registered in Punjab Cyber Crime Police Station, Mohali under section 66-A of the IT Act, and various sections of the Indian Penal Code and investigations are on.

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 allegedly sparked by an argument over shifting pilgrims to another place.

Pannu was chased, slapped, punched and beaten with shoes and even a broom. The entire incident was videographed by a person and uploaded on the internet.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday ordered the setting up a special team (SIT) for the incident's probe. The SIT, headed by an inspector general (IG), has four senior police officers.

Badal even 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".

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, deemed 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.

The opposition Congress, which had demanded a judicial probe into the incident, said that the probe ordered by the Punjab government was a sham. It alleged that a probe was not being ordered against Education Minister S.S. Maluka to investigate the conspiracy angle.

State Congress chief Pratap Singh Bajwa alleged that Pannu was assaulted because the officer had recently exposed a big textbook scam in the education department.

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