The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing cases of sacrilege and police firing in 2015, on Friday filed a charge sheet in a court in Punjab’s Faridkot indicting Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal and former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini as masterminds.
The charge sheet also blamed then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the Kotkapura firing case following sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib and subsequent violence in which the police force was accused of excesses that left two people dead.
Official sources told IANS that then Home Minister Sukhbir Badal and then Director General of Police Saini had allegedly hatched conspiracy to use force to conceal the inaction after incidents of sacrilege in Faridkot district.
Then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been blamed for facilitating the execution of the conspiracy. Former MLA Mantar Singh Brar was also made accused in the 7,000-page charge sheet, which was filed by the SIT led by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) L.K. Yadav.
The others who named as accused were then IG Param Raj Umranangal, DIG Amar Singh Chahal, SSP Sukhmander Singh Mann, SSP Charanjit Singh and SHO Gurdeep Singh. They have been blamed for hatching conspiracy and distortion and concealment of facts.
In Punjab, blasphemy has been an emotive issue in every election since the 2015 Kotkapura firing case.
Sikh intellectuals, social reformers and even political parties prefer to maintain a stoical silence over lynching incidents after blasphemy or “Beadbi”. They largely blame political parties at the helm for inaction in delivering speedy justice in sacrilege cases, saying the people of a particular religion was forced to take the law into their own hands.
Sukhbir Badal has been blaming the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for raking up the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan cases purely to divert people’s attention from its “scandals”.
Questioned by the SIT, he has said all police actions in 2015 were part of a laid down procedure.
“The decisions (in 2015) are taken by the administration. I am repeatedly being asked questions about the firing incident even though it is clear that this action was taken by the authorised officer,” he had said.
Also the SIT had questioned Akali Dal’s patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, 94, for hours at his residence.
Likewise, the SIT questioned former DGP Saini, who was removed from the top police post by the Chief Minister in 2015 following incidents.
Justice Ranjit Singh (retd), who headed the commission appointed by the previous Congress government into the alleged incidents of sacrilege, had placed the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and then DGP Saini in dock.
Also, he had castigated the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, whose chief and self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence for raping two of his disciples and a life term for a journalist’s killing, for the incident of sacrilege.
Justice Singh made these comments in January last year on the release of his 423-page book “The Sacrilege” based on his inquiry when he was heading the government set up commission.
“Inference on the basis of material and evidence is against both then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and then Director General of Police (DGP) Saini for not playing active role (with the subsequent police firing on protesters after the sacrilege incident),” Justice Singh had told IANS at the book launch here.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on April 9, 2021, quashed the previous police SIT report that gave a clean chit to the Badals and directed the state government to set up a new team.
The high court had not only quashed the probe but also raised doubts over the methods and ordered reconstitution of the SIT probing the case without IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who is now an AAP legislator.
Following the court directive, the then Congress government led by Captain Amarinder Singh had constituted another SIT to probe the incident.