The SIT probing the 2015 Bargari sacrilege incident has summoned former minister Daljit Singh Cheema to appear before it at Faridkot on December 29th.
Cheema, who was a minister in the Badal government, has been called to find out if he was present at a meeting at Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence on September 16, 2015, and if so, who else was present and what was the subject of discussion at the meeting.
The Ranjit Singh Commission probing the sacrilege incidents and the police firing at anti-sacrilege protestors that killed two people at Behbal Kalan in Faridkot, included a witness statement that a meeting was held on that date at the Chief Minister’s house, and that apart from the Chief Minister, others present were three jathedars, including the then Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, and Cheema.
The commission report recorded the witness, the brother of a jathedar, alleging that the meeting had been called to organise a pardon to the Dera Sacha Sauda head, Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim, who had earlier been accused of blaspheming against the Sikh faith and excommunicated. The witness alleged that Cheema, directed by Badal, read out the text in Hindi of a request from Ram Rahim for a pardon. However, the witness retracted his statement later.
Inspector General of Police Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh confirmed to The Indian Express that summons had been sent to Cheema. The Indian Express has learnt that the SIT may also reach out to the former Akal Takht Jathedar to establish the alleged meeting.
“It was an important meeting in which three key Jathedars of Sikhs, who were in position to take decision on pardon to Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, were allegedly called at former CM’s house. It was an exceptional case when Jathedars had themselves gone to CM’s house. Meeting reportedly took place on September 16, 2015. The pardon was given on September 24, 2015. We have been probing the claim that the pardon letter of Dera chief was handed over to the Sikh Jathedars at this this meeting,” said a senior police official familiar with the SIT’s probe
Cheema is first to get summons regarding this meeting. The SIT is said to deliberating whether it can summon Giani Gurbachan Singh in view of the high office he held, or if it should reach out to him in some other manner.
“We would need to ask former Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh about the purpose of this meeting,” the police officer said.
Giani Gurmukh Singh, then Jathedar of Damdama Sahib, had also claimed in a Facebook live video in 2017 that such a meeting took place at former CM’s house on September 16, 2015 in which three Jathedars, including him, were present and the letter from the Dera chief requesting a pardon was read out to them.
After summoning actor Akshay Kumar to established the alleged meeting of former Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and Dera Sirsa head Gurmeet Ram Rahim back in 2015, this is the second key meeting alleged to have taken place that the SIT is seeking to establish.