Police on Tuesday evening announced the arrest of two Sikh brothers, allegedly having links with foreign radicals, for the October 12 desecration of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village in Faridkot district — the first case of sacrilege that sparked protests across Punjab.
Prime accused Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh had been taken into custody five days ago, after their phone calls with their US, Australia and Dubai-based handlers were initially intercepted by cops, top government sources told HT.
Rupinder, who hails from Panjgrain village in Faridkot district, was admitted to Apollo hospital in Ludhiana after he was injured in the Kotkapura clash last week. “During his hospitalisation also, the accused was receiving calls from his handlers, with whom they were discussing the delivery of cash, sharing details of bank account etc,” police sources said.
Meanwhile, in a hurriedly convened press conference, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said the Punjab government would unearth all conspiracies behind the desecration at Bargari village that had led to widespread “emotional outbursts” across the state.
Flanked by a battery of senior Akali leaders such as Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sikander Singh Maluka and Virsa Singh Valtoha, the deputy CM said the state government would arrest all culprits behind the incidents of sacrilege.
“This conspiracy was conceived by rogue elements. It was an attack on the Sikh community. But we are committed to expose such elements and punish them. We will not let these elements succeed in their designs,” a visibly emotional Sukhbir said.
Additional director general of police (crime) IPS Sahota, who is also heading a special investigation team (SIT) set up to probe incidents of sacrilege, said of the seven cases, police had cracked five.
Following a tip-off that the accused brothers were missing, their cell phones were placed under surveillance.
“Rupinder and his brother had been talking to their handlers abroad and discussing the payment promised to them for their act of sacrilege,” police said.
The ADGP claimed that “foreign links” of the accused had been established during the initial investigation. The police said they had unearthed “clear and concrete evidence of foreign funding behind heinous cases” of sacrilege and that anti-national elements were using some greedy persons to lure them to carry out designs of disturbing peace and communal harmony in the state.
The incidents at Kohrian (Sangrur), Nijjarpura (Amritsar), Ghawaddi (Ludhiana) and Baath (Tarn Taran) were of local origin, police said.
Replying to a query, police denied any link between the Bargari incident and the controversy over pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the Sikh clergy.
The police also shared audio clips of the telephonic conversation between Rupinder and his foreign handler and between Rupinder (9217660002) and Jaswinder, who was using his relative Gurbachan Singh’s number (9872214055). Rupinder talked to his brother on October 16 at 10:45am and to his handler in Australia on October 15 at 10:37am.