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Bargari sacrilege: Audio evidence stumps hardliners

punjab Updated: Oct 22, 2015 18:54 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Hindustan Times
Bargari sacrilege

Simranjeet Singh Mann interacting with mediapersons during a press conference in Bathinda on Wednesday.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT Photo)

Before making public the fact that “foreign-funding by Sikh radicals” was at the root of October 12 Bargari desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, key Punjab-based radical leaders and pro-radical elements within the Parkash Singh Badal government were briefed about the damning evidence generated “legally” by phone- tapping.

At the epicentre of violent protests and week-old blockades across the state is Bargari sacrilege that had surfaced after over 100 torn pages of Guru Granth Sahib were found near the village gurdwara. The first incident of sacrilege led to violent clashes between police and protesters in which two persons were killed.

According to top political sources, privy to this behind-the-door exercise, prominent radicals such as Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale, Panthpreet Singh Khalsa and ‘Panthic’ faces such as Balwant Singh Nandgarh, who have been leading the agitations in the Malwa belt, were checkmated with the evidence that foreign-based radicals had hatched the Bargari desecration conspiracy.

Flamboyant chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha (Akali Dal), who often boasts about his “past” and brush with militancy, was one of the ruling party leaders apprised of the hand of Sikh radicals in fomenting trouble in the state.

The wily deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, top sources say, specifically decided to tell Valtoha how radicals were unabashedly trying to defile Guru Granth Sahib to foment trouble in the state.

Valtoha, who had spent considerable time behind the bars, for his alleged subversive activities during the period of turmoil in Punjab, is perceived to be a pro-radical face in Badal regime.

The strategy to reach out to radicals was put in place after the first ray hope dawned on October 15 morning when cops — tasked by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to unearth clinching and convincing evidence — allegedly intercepted incriminating telephonic conversations of the now arrested Sikh brothers Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh with their handlers in Dubai, Australia and the United States.

After generating considerable evidence based on half-dozen tapped phone calls in which the accused allegedly discussed about the desecrated Sikh scripture, delivery of cash and details of the bank account, the back-door channels of communication with radicals were opened.

Senior police officers posted in the Malwa belt separately approached Dhadrianwale, Panthpreet and Balwant Singh Nandgarh. Besides, prominent people of the panchayats were also kept in the loop and briefed about the evidence that it was the handiwork of radicals. Dhadrianwale, a popular Sikh preacher and kirtani, is opposed to Dera Sacha Sauda. He is perceived to be the main radical preacher leading the current protests in Malwa and had supported the joint call given by the Dal Khalsa and Panch Pardhani to protest against the pardon granted by the Akal Takht to the dera head in the 2007 blasphemy case. Similarly,Panthpreet, is also known for anti-dera approach.

“Dhadrianwale was shocked to hear the audio,” said a source. “Panthpreet wanted to hear more audio tapes and asked numerous questions. Ultimately, he was also satisfied. Both Dhadrianwale and Panthpreet were requested to then inform people about the conspiracy, foreign funding and that how radicals were now using even Guru Granth Sahib to further their agenda,” sources revealed.

But among all it was Akali MLA Valtoha, who literally froze in his tracks after hearing the audio clips. “Valtoha initially refused to believe it. The hardliner finally relented with disgust writ large on his face about the dangerous design of the radicals,” sources told Hindustan Times.

It is this move as part of multi-pronged state craft that is believed to have forced a section of the pro-radical fringe to fade away from the ongoing protests quietly and causing divisions among the radical outfits.