The desecration of Guru Granth Sahib rocked the Punjab Assembly Tuesday with Opposition seeking to corner the ruling Congress on the issue and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh squarely blaming the Shiromani Akali Dal for “scuttling” the probe into the three incidents and “pressuring” the CBI into filing the closure report in the investigations.
The ruckus began soon after Aam Aadmi Party member Aman Arora raised the issue during the Zero Hour on the third day of the Monsoon Session. Arora asked the state government to come clean on the closure report filed by the CBI.
Replying to the query, Amarinder said that “despite the Akalis’ efforts to obstruct justice”, his government would take the case to its logical conclusion.
This led to loud protests from the members of the SAD-BJP alliance. Several AAP members too sought to speak on the issue but were not allowed by the Speaker.
Questioning the role of Akali Dal, which was in power in 2015 when the incidents took place, Amarinder said they (Akalis) did not rely on the state police and instead “first handed over the case to CBI to delay the investigations and have now pressured the central agency into submitting a hurried closure report”.
No proper inquiry was conducted by the CBI, the CM said, adding that the agency deliberately did not make any headway in the case under the directives of the then deputy CM and home minister Sukhbir Badal. “The CBI did no investigations (into the case) because of you,” he said, pointing to the Akali benches.
Akali MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa countered the CM by saying that the investigations were handed over to CBI because of the demands made by Congress, AAP and the Panthic parties.
Amid noisy scenes, Amarinder said, “The CBI had, in fact, shown an interest in challenging the state’s decision to withdraw Bargari sacrilege cases from it, but then suddenly and inexplicably decided to file its closure report. It is obvious that the agency had acted under political pressure”.
The agency filed its closure report last month in a special CBI court in Mohali, giving a clean chit to the accused in the three incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 in Faridkot.
The then SAD-BJP government had handed over three cases to the CBI – theft of a ‘bir’ (copy) of the holy book from a Burj Jawahar Singh Walagurdwara on June 1, 2015; putting up of sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25; and torn pages of the book being found at Bargari on October 12, 2015 in Faridkot.
Last year, the Punjab government had issued a notification for withdrawing investigation from the CBI after a resolution was passed in the Assembly. The matter was handed over to a special investigation team of the Punjab Police.
Amarinder informed the House that the CBI’s failure to make any progress in the investigation had been taken note of by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The HC in its verdict, in a case filed by some accused police officers, in January this year, had said, “. the notification withdrawing the consent is pursuant to resolution passed by the Vidhan Sabha, which in clear terms states that the investigation of cases given to CBI needed to be taken back…Besides, during the course of hearing, this court called for the case diary of the CBI and perused the same. It was evident that investigation in the cases had hardly made any headway”.
Given the facts and circumstances, it was more than obvious that the CBI decision to file closure report was “ill motivated” and “not in the interest of justice” in the Bargari case, Amarinder said.
CM directs AG to oppose CBI closure report in court
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Tuesday directed Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda to oppose the closure report filed by the CBI in the Bargari cases in court, saying that the central agency had no jurisdiction to file the report in the light of the observations made by the high court. Amarinder issued the directive on basis of the judicial and legal position shared with him by Nanda after a detailed examination of the facts and circumstances preceding the closure report, an official spokesperson said.