Highlights

  • Bagga's arrest stayed by court, hours after Mohali court issued non-bailable warrant
  • No coercive steps against Bagga till May 10
  • AAP-BJP-Congress exchange barbs

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HC relief for Tajinder Bagga as AAP-BJP exchange barbs

Late-night relief for Bagga, court stays arrest warrant, says no coercive steps till may 10; political slugfest over Bagga's arrest continues

In a late-night relief, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed a fresh arrest warrant against BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga whose dramatic arrest by the Punjab Police and subsequent release triggered an intense political slugfest between the AAP and the BJP on Saturday.

Justice Anoop Chitkara took up Bagga's petition in an urgent hearing at his residence just before midnight and directed that no coercive steps be taken against him till May 10, hours after a Mohali court issued the non-bailable arrest warrant, the BJP leader's counsel Chetan Mittal said.

In the political arena, the slugfest between the AAP and the BJP escalated into protests and name-calling.

Back home in the early hours of Saturday, Bagga, surrounded by family members and friends at his Janakpuri residence, tore into the Aam Aadmi Party and its chief Arvind Kejriwal over his arrest, accusing him of pursuing political vendetta through police in Punjab.

"No matter one or 100 FIRs are registered against me, I will keep raising issues of dishonouring of the Guru Granth Sahib and Kejriwal's insult to Kashmiri Pandits," he said.

"They (the AAP) are attacking me because I am raising my voice against the AAP and its chief Kejriwal," he said.

BJP leaders also protested outside the residence of the Delhi Chief Minister, calling him a "dictator".

The AAP accused the BJP and its governments of protecting its "goon" who incited riots in Punjab.

Watch | From attack on Prashant Bhushan to trolling Deepika Padukone: a brief history of Tajinder Bagga

Bagga's arrest in the case filed by AAP leader Sunny Ahluwalia at Mohali on April 1 witnessed the Punjab Police pitted against their counterparts from Haryana and Delhi.

The Delhi Police has filed a case of kidnapping over his arrest. As Punjab Police was taking him to AAP-ruled state, they were stopped by their Haryana counterparts. Bagga was later brought to the national capital by the Delhi Police, taken to the DDU hospital as a Medico-Legal-Case (MLC) before being produced in front of a Dwarka court magistrate.

"The medical examination revealed injury marks on his body,” the Delhi Police said on Saturday. "Bagga expressed apprehension over his safety and security. We will do necessary security arrangements," a senior officer said.

Bagga claimed that while he was being taken to Punjab after his arrest, the police tried to persuade him not to raise issues pertaining to dishonouring of Guru Granth Sahib and 'The Kashmir Files' movie. "They told me why I was getting myself involved with matters of other state when I lived in Delhi." Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta alleged that with Bagga's arrest, it was clear that the Aam Aadmi Party's national convener had "misused" the Punjab Police for personal benefit.

"Kejriwal is a dictator. What was Bagga's crime? He just asked for Kejriwal's clarification on his remarks on '(The) Kashmir Files'. He was not allowed to wear a turban during the arrest," he said. "The BJP will not tolerate the insult to the turban." The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) also sought a report from Punjab chief secretary within seven days on allegations that Bagga was not allowed to wear a turban while being arrested by Punjab police.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged the entire BJP and its governments are engaged in saving one of their "goons who spoke against the brotherhood in Punjab and incited riots".

"The BJP is a party of goons which makes even its government do the job of goons. Never even by mistake, these people talk about education, health, inflation and unemployment," he tweeted in Hindi.

Also Watch| From attack on Prashant Bhushan to trolling Deepika Padukone: a brief history of Tajinder Bagga

But even as Bagga and the BJP launched tirades against the AAP, a court in Mohali issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Bagga for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and criminal intimidation), among other charges.

The arrest warrant was issued by the court of Judicial Magistrate Ravtesh Inderjit Singh.

In its order, the court said, "Keeping in view the contents of the application and the fact that sufficient opportunities have already been granted to the accused to join the investigation and despite that accused has failed to join the investigation, it is necessary in the interest of justice, to issue non-bailable warrants of accused Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga for 23.05.2022, who is evading arrest, in order to facilitate the investigation." Soon after, Bagga moved the high court and secured relief.

Also, the Punjab government Saturday moved two applications before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking the Centre and the Delhi Police chief be made parties to the arrest case, and that the May 6 CCTV footage of Janakpuri and Kurukshetra police stations be preserved.

The Punjab government has alleged that its police personnel were "detained" at Janakpuri and Kurukshetra police stations when they had gone to arrest Bagga.

After the hearing, the Delhi Police counsel alleged the Punjab Police did not follow laid down procedure while arresting Bagga, a claim rejected by the Pujab government counsel.

"The Punjab Police did not consult us or inform us before taking Mr Bagga into custody. Those who had gone there (to Bagga's home in Delhi) they were also not in uniform, they were in plainclothes," said Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain, who represented the Delhi Police.

Punjab government counsel Poneet Bali told reporters outside the high court on Saturday that Bagga was served notices on five occasions, but he did not respond.

"The Punjab police has every right to arrest an accused," he said.

The hearing in the case was adjourned for May 10.

While referring to the kidnapping complaint, the counsel claimed the Delhi Police obtained a search warrant from a court without disclosing the fact that Bagga is an accused in a case and he has been arrested.

"So, whatever is the future course of action as far as Mr Bagga is concerned will definitely be taken." The ruling AAP's chief spokesperson for Punjab Malvinder Singh Kang claimed Bagga was a habitual offender. Her alleged Bagga faced more than 20 cases in Delhi, West Bengal and Chattisgarh.

"Such anti-social elements should get punishment as per the law of the land, but unfortunately the country's government is coming out in his support," he alleged.

"...This country will run according to law, Constitution, and not in an autocratic manner," Kang said.

The Congress also entered the debate with its leader P Chidambaram saying police serving their political masters will lead to the "ultimate breakdown" of federalism.

Also Watch| 'Ghar Wapsi': Tajinder Bagga released after being produced before a magistrate at midnight

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