Former IPS officer Iqbal Singh Lalpura, who was among the three-member team of officers chosen to arrest Sikh separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in April 1981, has been appointed as the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.
Lalpura was appointed BJP spokesperson last year
The ex-IPS officer joined the BJP in 2012 and was appointed party spokesperson from Punjab's Sikh community in September last year.
The appointment of the retired DIG Punjab Police as chairman of the NCM is being seen as BJP-led Central government's effort to woo Sikhs. Lalpura, who belongs to Rupnagar district, had served as SSP of Amritsar Rural, Kapurthala and Tarn Taran districts.
Lalpura investigated the 1978 Sikh Nirankari clash
At the time, Sikh secessionist leader Bhindranwale had agreed to be arrested but demanded that only baptised officers will arrest him. So a three-member team was formed comprising Lalpura, cop Jarnail Singh Chahal and SDM BS Bhullar.
Recounting his negotiation with Bhindranwale, Lalpura had said, "He agreed for courting arrest on 20 September, 1981, in the Nirankari killing case but laid a condition that only 'Amritdhari' (baptised) officers can arrest him. A three-member team of SSP Jarnail Singh Chahal, SDM Baaj Singh Bhullar and I took Bhindranwale formally into custody."
Author of several books on Sikh philosophy
Lalpura currently serves as a member of several social organisations and has authored 14 books on Sikh and Punjabi culture, and interpretation of Guru Granth Sahib.
Some of his books include "Japji Sahib ik vichaar", "Gurbani katha vichaar", "Wangaar", Marde ae Khuda Nanak", "Raaj karega khalsa". Lalpura's upcoming books are "Love, Serve and Protect", "Life with Crime and Criminals" (on his time with militants), "Jagat Guru Baba" and "Tilak Janju - Manukhuta da Rakha".
His books on Gurbani focus on particular facets such as references to Islam, Hinduism and other religions in Guru Granth Sahib. His next book on his experience in terrorism days, especially interaction with Bhindranwale, is slated to be published shortly.
He has remained a principal negotiator with terrorists on behalf of the government and had retrieved the body of slain DIG AS Atwal from Golden Temple.
"I will work to protect the interests of minorities across the country and am thankful to the government for choosing me for this responsibility," The Tribune quoted Lalpura as saying.
He has also won several awards such as the President's Police Medal, a police medal for meritorious services, Shiromani Sikh Sahitkar Award and Sikh scholar award.
Centre set up the NCM under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992
Earlier this year, the Delhi High Court had asked the Centre to explain why six of the seven posts at the NCM are lying vacant since October.
On 13 August, the Delhi High Court extended the deadline given to the Centre to nominate persons to all the vacant positions in the National Commission for Minorities by two months.
Justice Rekha Palli said the process, which was earlier directed to be concluded by 31 July, be completed by 30 September.
The court's decision came after the Centre made a plea to extend the deadline by a period of three months.
Also, earlier, while the Monsoon Session was ongoing, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on 2 August said, "The National Commission for Minorities has informed that the erstwhile Minority Commission in its Annual Reports for the period 1 January, 1981 to 31 March, 1982 and 1 April, 1982 to 31 March, 1983 had recommended for setting up of a Committee to consider the need for considering and, if necessary, to formulate a scheme to establish a National Integration-cum-Human Rights Commission for promotion of secular traditions and national integration."
Initially, five religious communities, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis), were notified as minority communities by the Union government. Further through a notification, dated 27 January, 2014, Jains were also notified as a minority community.
Union government constituted National Commission for Minorities in New Delhi and the State governments constituted State Minorities Commissions in their respective State capitals.
These organisations are set-up to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities as provided in the Constitution of India and laws enacted by the Parliament and the state Legislatures.
With inputs from agencies