January 19, 2022 9:40:27 pm
A retired high court judge, who headed a one man commission of inquiry constituted to probe the incidents of sacrilege and subsequent police firing in 2015, Wednesday held the Dera Sacha Sauda and its followers for theft and desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib from a gurdwara in Faridkot and putting up derogatory posters.
Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) also put the blame on then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and retired IPS officer Sumedh Singh Saini, who was then the Punjab Police chief, for the police firing on peaceful protesters in which two persons were killed.
“To a large extent, Saini had a very active role,” Justice Singh said.
He was addressing the media after releasing his book, ‘The Sacrilege’, which chronicles the incidents and the probe conducted by him.
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Soon after Congress formed government in 2017, then chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had set up the Justice Singh Commission to investigate the various incidents of sacrilege of religious texts. It dealt with incidents at village Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari and firing incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in 2015.
Justice Singh said as per the findings of the probe, the Dera followers were responsible for the theft of Guru Granth Sahib from village Burj Jawahar Singh Wala in June 2015; subsequent derogatory posters which were pasted in villages of Burj Jawahar Singh Wala in September that year; and the incident of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib where torn pages were found strewn in Bargari village on October 12, 2015.
Citing inferences drawn in his probe report, Justice Singh also put the role of Akali patron Parkash Singh Badal under scanner for police action on anti-sacrilege protestors. He also referred to the conversation between then Badal, who headed the SAD-BJP alliance government, and then DGP Saini at 2 am that day, where the IPS officer assured to clear the town of the protestors.
He said barring two more incidents, one at Mallke and other at Gurusar, all other cases among 160 incidents of sacrilege were “different” and did not have involvement of Dera followers. He, however, stressed that theft and subsequent sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib were unprecedented and caused concern among the Sikh community.
Justice Singh said the incidents of sacrilege were connected to controversial pardon (by Akal Takht which was later revoked) to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (now in jail serving life term in rape and murder cases). He said it had roots dating back to 2007 (when Akal Takht had issued a hukamnama for Sikh community to snap all ties with dera chief and his followers for his alleged blasphemous act of imitating Guru Gobind Singh in a ceremony akin to creation of Khalsa) and were linked to release of Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s movie Messenger of God.
Responding to a question on the timing of the release of the book ahead of February 20 elections, the retired high court judge said there was no political aim and that he had been already working on the book. He said the aim of the book was to bring findings of the report in public domain.
“It was imperative to bring these things in public domain,” said Justice Singh, lamenting that there was a debate in the Punjab Assembly, but no legislator described it in detail. “Some elements questioned and boycotted the report…The report remained confined in the precincts of Assembly,” he added. Justice Singh said that after submission of complete report to the government, some new things emerged and he had documented all those in the book.
The retired judge said it was unfortunate that the investigations into the cases linger on even after six years.
The book was released by Justice S S Sodhi (retd) and Justice Mahesh Grover (retd) among others.
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