Opposition parties lash out at AAP govt in Punjab over gangster Lawrence Bishnoi’s TV interview

Opposition parties have reacted strongly over jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, the prime accused in rapper Shubhdeep Singh alias Sidhu Moosewala’s murder case, appearing in a TV interview for around an hour Tuesday evening even as Punjab’s prisons department categorically came out with a statement that the video was not from either Bathinda jail or from any other jail in Punjab.

In a series of tweets, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal wrote, “State facilitating #SidhuMooseWala murder suspect’s interview to divert the attention from their own complicity shows that @BhagwantMann has no moral authority to continue as Chief Minister.”

He also tweeted “CM @BhagwantMann has buckled to gangsters & he is using a dreaded gangster to defame #SidhuMooseWala on pretext of ‘explaining’’ a heinous crime. Is this how he will give justice to Moosewala family? @Akali_Dal_ is with the family. We will force this govt to do justice in case.”

Sukhbir further wrote, “Lawrence, Warring, Bhagwant – what a deadly nexus has been revealed by a dreaded gangster from Punjab jail !!! Who is safe and who is corrupt and where has Punjab law & order situation deteriorated to?”

Congress Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira tweeted, “I’m shocked & appalled how a gangster like Lawernce Bishnoi can give an interview while in in custody whether in PB jail or elsewhere! This is total breakdown of law in India! I urge @BhagwantMann & @DGPPunjabPolice to clarify their position-Khaira @INCIndia.”

Khaira further wrote, “The @BhagwantMann govt instead of taking strict actions against gangsters is trying to muzzle voice of media,opposition & people by issuing threats of action for asking questions about the purported in jail interview of Bishnoi. Govt should clarify where was he interviewed taken?”

BJP leader Manjinder Sirsa also took to twitter and wrote, “Lawrence Bishnoi’s interview puts a big question mark on the Police Administration in Punjab. Lately, there was News of gang wars happening in Punjab’s Jails. Gangsters are having fun in Punjab’s Jail while #SidhuMoosewala parents are on roads for Justice. Since #LawrenceBishnoi is in Punjab’s Jail right now; @AAPPunjab must answer and clarify on Jail Administration.”

Punjab BJP vice president Subhash Sharma said over the phone, “This is a very unfortunate development. Jails have become resting places for gangsters from where they operate their network.”

Asked about the Punjab prison department’s clarification that the video was not from any Punjab jail, Sharma said: “Should we see the clarification or the interview? Lawrence Bishnoi has been in various Punjab jails for eight months. At the time when the interview was aired, he was in Bathinda jail…”

Asked if the interview could have been videotaped outside Punjab, Sharma said: “The matter should be thoroughly probed. The probe would ascertain the phone coordinates and reveal exactly from where he appeared in the interview.”

BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said, “Gangsters have opened undeclared offices in jails. Punjab jails have now become studios to eulogize gangsters. Aam Aadmi Party’s biggest gift to Punjab is gangsters and while no other industry is investing in the state, the AAP government has given industries of extortion and jungle raj to Punjab where daily murder is the order of the day. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann should shun political tourism and rather coordinate with Central agencies to get Punjab out of troubled waters.”

In the interview, telecast by ABP Sanjha, that came a day before the slain singer’s death anniversary, Bishnoi alleged that “a person got murdered at the hands of Moosewala in Ludhiana, the responsibility of which was taken by another person.” Bishnoi, who is alleged to have orchestrated the brutal murder of Moosewala in May last year, claimed that it was his Canada-based associate Goldy Brar and his cousin Sachin Bishnoi who planned the murder to avenge the killings of “our brothers Vicky Middukhera and Gurlal Brar”.

Bishnoi is currently lodged in Bathinda jail. He returned to Punjab a few days ago from Rajasthan where he was taken for questioning last month in connection with a firing and extortion case registered in January. However, the location of Bishnoi while appearing in the interview in a yellow T-shirt was not clear. Soon after the interview was aired, Punjab prisons department issued a press release, categorically stating that the video was not from either Bathinda jail or any other jail in Punjab.

An official spokesperson of the prisons department said, “It has come to notice that a private TV news channel has aired an interview of prisoner Lawrence Bishnoi purportedly from inside a jail. Rumours are that the interview was recorded from inside Bathinda Jail. This is to clarify that the rumours are baseless and that this video is not from either Bathinda Jail where the prisoner is currently confined or from any other jail in Punjab. It is further clarified that this prisoner is at present confined in the high-security zone of Bathinda Jail where strict surveillance is kept over his activities 24×7. If anyone is caught spreading fake news maligning the image of Punjab Prisons administration, action as per law shall be initiated.”

Bathinda Jail Superintendent ND Negi, too, said that the video was neither from Bathinda Jail nor any other jail in the state. He said jammers in place at Bathinda Jail did not let phones work and hence there was no possibility of any interview from inside the jail.

Punjab Anti-Gangsters Task Force (AGTF) assistant inspector general Sandeep Goel said: “This is not from Bathinda Jail or any Punjab jail or Punjab Police custody. Bathinda Jail, where he is lodged, is a high-security dead phone zone.”