Facing flak over law and order situation in the wake of protests over sacrilege incidents, Punjab government on Sunday shunted out its police chief Sumedh Singh Saini, replacing him with Suresh Arora, who had played a key role in fighting terrorism in the state in late 80s.
“Saini has been transferred,” Punjab home secretary Jagpal Sandhu said, adding that he was given the new charge as Chairman of Police Housing Corporation. Arora, a 1982-batch IPS officer, was serving as the Director General of Police-cum-Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau.
He had played a crucial role in fighting terrorism and was posted as the SP (Headquarters), Amritsar, during Operation Black Thunder I, and as SSP Amritsar at the time of Operation Black Thunder II. He has served as the SSP in almost all districts, besides serving as the DIG, CM Security, after the assassination of then CM Beant Singh.
A postgraduate in law from the University of London, Arora has won various gallantry medals and awards, including the President’s Meritorious Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Prakram Medal.
The Election Commission of India had appointed Suresh Arora as the Director General of Police of Punjab ahead of last Lok Sabha polls. He was selected from among three officers, whose names were forwarded to the ECI by the state government for the post, after DGP Saini had proceeded on a long leave ahead of polls, following which Congress sought his removal from the post.
Saini was believed to be close to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Congress and most of the Sikh organisations were against Saini for holding the post of the DGP. Punjab was rocked by protests over alleged desecration of holy book. The state police had come under attack after two persons were killed in firing at Behbal Kalan village in Faridkot while they were protesting.
The Congress and AAP had demanded imposition of President’s rule in Punjab contending that the state government had failed to tackle the law and order situation, which was deteriorating fast and spiralling out of control, in the wake of recent incident of desecration of the holy book of the Sikhs.