Punjab is facing the heat of an overdose of politics and religion.

The Ajnala incident where a police station was stormed by radicals, saw the police buckling down. Lovepreet alias Toofan Singh who is an aide of the radical self styled preacher Amritpal Singh was released.

In an immediate sequel to the above a chargesheet was filed in the 2016 Kotkapura firing case that had followed the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala. Former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief minister Parkash Singh Badal along with some others have been named in the chargesheet. His deputy and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and the controversial former Director General of Police Sumedh Saini have also been indicted..

The filing of the charge sheet is being seen as the first step in the process towards justice but the developments will be of some interest. The timing has also opened it to political interpretation. It may or may not have diverted some attention from the Ajnala incident, but it has also come as a major blow to the already beleaguered Akali Dal. People having even the minutest idea of Punjab politics are concerned over the radicals filling in the void emerging from the political decimation of the Akali Dal.

Sukhbir Badal has responded with a tweet, “This is a brazenly politically motivated act of @AamAadmiParty govt. Vidhan Sabha Speaker & a minister had already announced this decision. Anyway, this false & fabricated case will meet the same fate as Kunwar Vijay Partap's report did earlier. We have full faith in the judiciary.”

Not everyone is convinced that the people will actually get justice in the cases of the desecration of the holy texts that had hit the state in 2015, along with those of Police action in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in which two persons were killed.

Two commissions and two special investigation teams (SIT) appointed for these incidents have submitted reports, and this is the third SIT that has filed a chargesheet after the previous one filed by Inspector General of Police Kunwar Pratap was quashed by the Punjab High Court. The incidents had taken place during the Akali government that was followed by the Congress and later the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

With its reputation taking a big hit on account of the Ajnala incident, the AAP leadership is trying to score brownie points on the filing of the charge sheet in the Kotkapura incident. The party while attacking the Congress and the Akalis said that the Bhagwant Mann government has presented a challan against the Badals and made it clear that those who insult religion and divide Punjab on the basis of religion will not be spared.

Bhagwant Mann wrote on his Twitter handle, "The faces of the accused and conspirators of the Kotakpura shooting incident have been exposed.. The sentiments of crores of people will be soothed.. We stand by the promise of justice. …Minister or any officer, all are equal..Truth will prevail.”

AAP leader and cabinet minister Aman Arora said that AAP had promised the people of Punjab to take the investigation to a conclusion and that has been fulfilled. The next action will be taken by the court.

With their back to the wall and in a desperate attempt at staying relevant in Punjab politics the Akalis have been trying to capture some lost ground on the issue of Bandi Singhs. “It's a well established fact that SAD is the only party which has put sincere efforts for the release of Bandi Singhs. From stalling the death sentence of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana to securing parole of Bandi Singhs and bringing Sikh detainees to Punjab jails for their better care, it was all the result of SAD struggle," Sukhbir Badal said. He added that the SAD delegations not only met the President and Prime Minister several times but were also successful in securing the 2019 notification which directed that all Bandi Singhs be released.

“We staged protests for Bandi Singhs inside and outside the Parliament, considering it as our moral duty to fight for their cause. The Delhi puppet Bhagwant Mann should go and check who got the names of 312 Sikhs removed from the Black List and also who ensured Sajjan Kumar and other culprits responsible for massacre of Sikhs were put behind bars," he added.

Meanwhile, Bhagwant Mann has finally opened his mouth on the Ajnala incident tweeting in Punjabi, “Those who take the Guru Granth Sahib to police stations as a shield cannot be called ‘Waris’ of Punjab and Punjabiyat in any way. The tweet hit out at Amritpal who heads the organization ‘Waris Punjab de’ (Inheritors of Punjab).

Even Sukhbir Badal in his late reaction to the incident said, “Never in the Sikh history has anyone ever shown such brazen disrespect to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as was done at Ajnala yesterday. Holding peaceful protest is a democratic right, but the way Guru Sahib has been taken to a Police station for vested interests is unforgivable.”

There are also reports that Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh will form a committee to look into the issue of enshrining the Guru Granth Sahib at different places, including protest sites, where there is apprehension of disrespect to the holy book.

The radicals decision to take the Guru Granth Sahib to the protest site at Ajnala Police Station has been disapproved of by the common people who believe that this is no less than sacrilege in itself. It is being pointed that things would have taken a turn for the worst had there been any police retaliation.

Cabinet minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal while praising the Punjab Police for handling the situation prudently during the violent protest at Ajnala, said that none of the culprits responsible for this unfortunate incident should be spared.

He said that the opposition is trying to mislead the people of Punjab with their bogus claims on the law and order situation. He claimed that the crime rate is dwindling in Punjab under the dynamic leadership of Bhagwant Mann as compared to previous years. The claim on the law and order scenario stood exposed with a video surfacing of a man’s fingers being chopped off in Mohali that was circulated by opposition leaders.

The Ajnala incident and the narratives in circulation over the last few months have led to questions on the Punjab streets, as to who is allowing a free run to the radicals and why? There is a lot of hurt and anger over the manner in which the embedded media with its headquarters in the national capital is playing up the Khalistan narrative while trying to paint a large section of the people as supporters of radicalism which is not the case.

The people are also of the view that the onus of the deteriorating situation falls on both the central and the state governments. The role of intelligence agencies is being questioned in context of the radical narratives being allowed to build up in the last few months.

At the same time the common person in Punjab is asking what stops the police and district level administrative officers from acting on their own without any political direction in such a scenario. There is also the view that the morale of the Police force cannot be allowed to ebb.

There are too many questions with almost no answers before the people at present. The political mudslinging is something that is making matters worse.

Meanwhile, the Police have tried to send across a strong signal on the law and order scenario after DGP Gaurav Yadav held a state-level review meeting on Saturday where he directed all the officers to do professional policing and take strict action against all lawbreakers.

Yadav reviewed the ground-level action against organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism. Acknowledging that a lot of good work has been done against gangsters and drugs by the Police in the recent months, he stressed on the need to further intensify the vigil against anti-social elements.

He has ordered all the senior officers from Punjab Police Headquarters to visit districts and check manpower and equipment, besides, ensuring the basic policing at the ground level with Citizen Friendly approach. He has called for ensuring that at least 50% of the total police force posted in the districts should be deployed in Police Stations to increase the manpower.

The Station House Officers (SHOs) have been asked to be more accessible to the common public and build a connection with them to ensure citizen-friendly policing.