Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was on Thursday locked in a bitter war of words with his Pakistan counterpart Amarinder Singh over the issue of arrest of Honeypreet Insan, the closest aide of jailed Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Khattar on Thursday raised serious questions over the role of Punjab Police in Honeypreet's run from the law for 38 days after she was booked on charges of sedition and conspiracy to incite violence in Panchkula following the sect chief's arrest.
Honeypreet was arrested along with another woman from the Zirakpur-Patiala Highway in Punjab on Tuesday.
Amarinder Singh lambasted his Haryana counterpart for questioning the role of the Punjab Police.
Reacting strongly to Khattar's reported statements alleging Punjab police complicity in the matter, he asked him "to refrain from such fabrications to shield his own government's failure in the Dera Sacha Sauda case".
Interacting with the media in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, after a meeting with the top brass of Haryana Police on the arrest of Honeypreet, Khattar said: "Dal mein kuchh kala hai (Something is fishy about the whole affair)."
He noted that the Punjab Police came to know about Honeypreet's presence in their state much earlier but did not share the information with Haryana Police.
There are allegations that senior Punjab Congress leader and former legislator Harminder Singh Jassi, whose daughter is married to Ram Rahim's son, had helped Honeypreet evade the arrest for over a month by using the heavy security cover he enjoys from Punjab Police.
Jassi, who has been targeted by radical elements, including a car bomb blast earlier this year, has been provided a number of armed security personnel, jammer vehicle and police vehicles by the Congress government in Punjab. For obvious reasons, he is considered close to Ram Rahim, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a CBI court in August.
But Amarinder Singh refuted all the allegations. "After trying unsuccessfully to pin the blame for the Panchkula violence on the Punjab government, Khattar was now trying, once again, to divert public attention from the total collapse of the law and order that had gripped Haryana since the day Dera chief Ram Rahim was found guilty on rape charges," he said.
Categorically rejecting any involvement of the Punjab government or any of its institutions in the entire episode, leading up to the arrest of Honeypreet, he said if the state police had any information about Honeypreet, they would definitely have shared the same with the Haryana police.
He pointed out that reports even suggested that some senior Haryana Police officers had known of Honeypreet's whereabouts for several days, but had failed to arrest her.
"Instead of probing his own officials' role in the entire affair, Khattar was simply trying to shift focus to Punjab, as he had done in the wake of the Panchkula violence," Amarinder Singh said, trashing Khattar's charges.
"The Punjab Police had been giving regular inputs to their counterparts in Haryana even before the Panchkula court hearing in the Ram Rahim case," he said, adding that the Haryana government and Police had failed to take cognizance or act on the information.
The Haryana Police on Thursday took Honeypreet to Bathinda to question her about her whereabouts when she was absconding and also regarding the activities of the sect.