The SIT has also attempted to establish the unsuccessful attempt of Punjab Police to prosecute Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a 2007 blasphemy case registered in Bathinda for hurting Sikh sentiments. Punjab Police had filed cancellation report in case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim just three days before Punjab assembly elections in 2012, when Shiromani Akali Dal was in power. It was done with an eye on the votes of Dera supporters.
It then goes on to create a link between the incidents starting September 16, 2015 when Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh was allegedly invited by then Punjab CM (Parkash singh Badal) at his home to hand over the alleged pardon letter sent by Gurmeet Ram Rahim for 2007 blasphemy. The video statement of one of the then Talwandi Sabo Jathedars, Gurmukh Singh, was used to establish that meeting did take place.
After eight days, on September 24, 2015, Akal Takht granted pardon to Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Of the five Jathedars who granted, one, Iqbal Singh, told the SIT that the letter was edited to make it look like a pardon letter, and Sukhbir Badal wanted this pardon granted. The SIT noted that the sacrilege at Bargari and Burj Jawaharsinghwala village had happened in the intervening night of September 24 and 25, 2015.
The charge sheet also mentions that as soon as the Akal Takht pardoned the dera head, his movie MSG-2 was released in Punjab on September 25 “under heavy police protection” followed by another controversial movie “Singh is Bling” on October 2, 2015 starring Akshay Kumar. Sukhbir Badal was then the deputy CM and also held the home portfolio.
The pardon granted to Gurmeet Ram Rahim was revoked by the Akal Takht on September 16, 2015, two days after the police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in which two Sikhs were killed. The SIT also highlighted the October 20, 2015 statement of then SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makar in which he had said,”The issue of pardon to Sirsa Dera chief on September 24 also contributes to the turmoil. I fail to understand why it was done in the most hurried way by the five head priests”.
The SIT alleged that actor Akshay kumar arranged the meeting between the Dera chief and Sukhbir Badal, who is also the president of party which controls the SGPC, during latter’s visit to Mumbai in September 2015. “The the negotiation between Sukhbir Badal and the Dera head was not without a reason. His own movie ‘Singh is Bling’ was questioned by Sikh masses on the point of hurting sentiments of the Sikh community. The movie of Akshay Kumar was also given go ahead and was released on October 2, 2015, one week after Sirsa Dera head’s movie MSG 2 was released,” reads the charge sheet. It has attached a copy of the approval granted by the SGPC to the movie ‘Singh is Bling’.
Akshay Kumar had earlier dismissed the allegations.
The SIT also noted that the SGPC spent Rs 36 lakh to advertise the pardon to Dera head and additional Rs 46.50 lakh to justify the pardon. “As regards the plea taken by Sukhbir Badal that he was not in Punjab when incidents of police firing took place on October 14, 2015, it is nothing but an attempt to take a defence of alibi. The investigations suggest that he was aware of each and every development, which was taking place in Punjab. However the office of chief secretary has been requested to provide complete details in this regard,” the charge sheet reads.
“The police action in early morning of October 14 was totally unprovoked. This action, as per investigation, was an outcome of conspiracy between certain high-profile politicians and police officers of senior rank in connivance with head of Dera Sacha Sauda and his followers. The investigation reveals in unambiguous terms the names of Umranangal, Saini, Mantar Brar, Prakash Badal, Sukhbir Badal,” the SIT said while pointing at the bigger conspiracy.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines