In August 1991, when he was SSP of Chandigarh, he faced a bomb attack by Khalistan Liberation Force, but survived with injuries
The Hush Post: It’s an end of an era. Former DGP Punjab Sumedh Singh Saini, who had a fair share of controversies to his name, retired today after putting in 36 years of service.
Saini is the man, who walked a tight-rope with a swagger not liked by most during terrorism and most say his entire tenure was a 36-year-long controversial period. Saini was seldom seen in public would talk to select press (one or two) and had strong likes and dislikes.
The 1982-batch officer from the Indian Police Service rose to the rank of Director General of Police and headed the force in Punjab for some years. At present, he held the post of chairman of the Punjab Police Housing Corporation. Apart from Sumedh Singh Saini, his elder brother Dinesh Singh is also a 1982-batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre.
Earlier Saini, was the Punjab Director General of Police, but was transferred as chairman PPHC in the midst of the panthic anger over the Guru Granth Sahib descration incidents and the killing of two Sikh protesters in police firing at the time.
He was known to be a blue-eyed man of former DGP KPS Gill, who is given the credit of wiping out terrorism in Punjab and has a questionable legacy too.
Saini served as SSP at Ferozepur, Batala, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Rupnagar and Chandigarh, and was a leading face of the bullet-for-bullet policy of the police against the terrorists.
Operations led by him eliminated big names of the Khalistan movement, and he had full freedom to have his way when Gill was the Punjab DGP in two different tenures.
In August 1991, when he was SSP of Chandigarh, he faced a bomb attack by Khalistan Liberation Force terrorists, but survived with injuries even as two of his security personnel were killed. That attack onwards, terrorists started dreading Saini even more than before and the former DGP became ruthless in his pursuit of going about his job. In 1997, when Saini was on a personal trip to London, a plot to kill him by Babbar Khalsa (Parmar faction) was foiled by the police there. Since then he has Z+ security.
Saini still faces a CBI case for allegedly kidnapping and elimination of a Ludhiana industrialist, his brother-in-law and his driver. The complaint said the industrialist, Vinod Kumar, had a business tiff with Saini’s relatives in Ludhiana where he was SSP in 1994.
As SSP of Chandigarh, Saini hit the headlines when he allegedly assaulted a Lieutenant Colonel, and the issue turned into an army-versus-police battle. No less than the then CM Beant Singh and DGP Gill had to intervene.
As head of the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau, Saini was accused of tapping phones of high court judges. In 2009, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur (since-retired), who was then a judge at the Punjab and Haryana high court, wrote to the then CJI that Saini had fabricated evidence of corruption against some judges.
Saini’s role in investigation of cases of corruption has won him praise, particularly in the 2002 case of a scam in the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) which was then chaired by Ravi Sidhu. Sidhu is now in jail convicted in the same case. As IGP (intelligence), Saini laid the trap for Sidhu, and investigation even named some HC judges. Before Captain Amarinder Singh was sworn in as CM in 2002, Saini was considered one of his closest aides. Apparently, after the ambit of the PPSC scam probe broadened, Saini was shifted out of the intelligence wing. Later, his equation with Amarinder went from bad to worse. When Amarinder faced corruption charges in Ludhiana City Centre and Amritsar Improvement Trust cases, Saini was head of the vigilance under the SAD-BJP government (2007-12).
It was the bad equation of Saini with Amarinder that pushed him into the closer circles of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal who remained deputy chief minister. When the Akalis won a second consecutive term in 2012, Saini was made the state police chief, bypassing many senior officers.