Who Is Iqbal Singh Lalpura—The New Chairman Of The National Commission For Minorities?
Lalpura is the second Sikh to become the chairman of the Commission.
He was part of the three-member team of ‘Amritdhari’ officers specially chosen to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in April 1981.
The Central government, on Wednesday, appointed Former IPS officer Iqbal Singh Lalpura as the new chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. Lalpura comes from the Sikh community. He is also the national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Punjab.
On 13 August, the Delhi High Court extended the deadline given to the central government 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 July 31, be completed by September 30. The High Court's decision came after the Centre made a plea to extend the deadline by a period of three months.
Only the second Sikh to become chairman
Lalpura is the second Sikh to become the chairman of the Minorities Commission. Before him, it was only Tarlochan Singh who served as the chairman from 2003 to 2006. Ever since its inception, the chairman of the commission has mostly been a member of the Muslim community. Before Lalpura, Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi was the chairman of the commission whose term ended in May last year.
“I will work to protect the interests of minorities across the country and am thankful to the government for choosing me for this responsibility,” said Lalpura.
The man who arrested Bhindranwale
Iqbal Singh Lalpura, has a unique life profile where he was part of the three-member team of ‘Amritdhari’ (baptised) officers, specially chosen to formally arrest Sikh separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in April 1981. At the time, Bhindranwale agreed to be arrested but demanded that only baptised officers arrest him. So, a three-member team was formed to execute the arrest. The team included Lalpura, cop Jarnail Singh Chahal and SDM BS Bhullar.
Lalpura was an investigating officer of the Sikh-Nirankari clash of 1978, also known as the incident leading to terrorism in Punjab and the rise of Bhindranwale.
President Police Medal and Literary Awards
An ex-IPS officer and author of 14 books on interpretation and explanation of the Guru Granth Sahib, Iqbal Singh Lalpura has been awarded with many awards like Police Medal, Shiromani Sikh Literary Award and Sikh Scholar Award for meritorious services. Along with this, he has also received the President Police Medal.
Some of his popular books include Japji Sahib ik vichaar, Gurbani katha vichaar, Wangaar, Marde ae Khuda Nanak, Raaj karega khalsa, Life with crime and criminals, and Punjab under siege- A critical analysis.
During his tenure as an IPS officer, Lalpura served as AIG CID Amritsar; SSP Amritsar City, SSP Tarn Taran, SSP Kapurthala and SSP Amritsar Rural. He was also AIG CID Jalandhar. The highlight of his police life was his standing as the principal negotiator with the terrorists on behalf of the government of the day. He was the one to retrieve the slain body of DIG AS Atwal from the Golden Temple.
BJP eyeing the Punjab elections?
With a few months to go for the Punjab elections, the appointment of Iqbal Singh Lalpura, an anti-Khalistan Sikh cop, as the chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, is being seen by many as an attempt by the BJP to secure crucial Sikh votes. The stand-off between the ‘farmer protestors’, many of them Sikh, and the Centre on the issue of farm laws, has dealt a heavy blow to the electoral prospects of BJP in the state. It is in this context that Lalpura’s appointment comes.
A seven-member commission
The National Commission for Minorities is mandated to have one chairperson, a vice-chairperson and five members, that is a total of seven. But according to the commission's website, at present, the only member in the commission is Atif Rashid, who is serving as the vice-chairman. The five remaining appointments of the members are to be done by September 30.
The Union Government had set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Initially five religious communities, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities by the Union Government. Further, on January 27, 2014, Jains were also notified as ‘minority.
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