Notified by the Punjab government on October 16, Zora Singh Commission is yet to start its inquiry into the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in Faridkot and the police firing that killed two of the protesters.
Commission’s head justice Zora Singh (retd) settled into his third-floor at Punjab’s mini secretariat last week only, and the home department is yet to provide him with staff. The two men who accompanied him to the office were from his old at the Punjab and Haryana high court, from where he retired in 2012. Nominated by none other than chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, justice Zora Singh told HT that he would take complete the inquiry but need another two months. “I told the government that I would take the probe to its logical end, but let things begin.” he said.
On November 24, when he got a call from the home department that his office was ready, justice Zora Singh sent a draft-public notice about the commission to the public relations department for publication, only to get it back with a dissent note, along with a query on who’d pay for the advertisements.
The Punjab government has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well to look into the desecration incidents, and the state’s own commission will look into the sacrilege at Bargadi in Faridkot district and the police firing at Behbal Kalan near Kotkapura on October 14. It has two months to submit recommendations to the chief secretary.
Police in a fix
In a fix on the suspension of Moga senior superintendent of police (SSP) Charanjit Sharma after the deaths in the October 14 firing, senior cops are tight-lipped over no departmental action against him, so far, even though it is mandatory for the government to initiate a preliminary inquiry under the Punishment and Appeals Rules 1970 of the Punjab Civil Services Rules. In the narration part of the first-information report (FIR) registered at Baja Khana on October 21, a week after the incident, the SSP’s name appears as leader of the police squad that opened fire at Behbal Kalan, though the column of the accused cops is left blank.
Additional director general of police (crime) IPS Sahota, who heads a special investigation team (SIT), said the matter was still being looked into. ADGP (administration) Dinkar Gupta would rather “wait and watch for the inquiry report” before pursuing against the suspended official.
The five FIRs that could be the immediate evidential document for the inquiry commission to get working include the first registered on June 2, about the theft of Guru Granth Sahib Bir from Burj Jawahar Singhwala village. The second is registered for the hand-written posters carrying abusive language against the Sikh scriptures and preachers Baljit Singh Daduwal and Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale. The third registered on October 12 relates to the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Faridkot’s Bargadi village, a case in which police arrested two men.
The fourth and the fifth FIRs are about the Behbal Kalan police firing incident, the latter under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) about the death of two protesters in the action. The fourth FIR was registered the very day of the firing, against “unidentified people from the mob”, for a murderous assault on Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma, Fazilka SP Bikramjit Singh, Jaito deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Jagdish Bishnmoi, Baja Khana station house officer (SHO) Amarjit Singh Kular and a handful of other police officers, including additional commissioner of police (ACP) and inspectors.
Grill session- Justice Zora Singh (retd), Behbal Kalan probe panel head
‘Don’t blame me’
HT: Why so much delay in beginning the inquiry?
Justice Zora Singh (retd): I will seek an extension for another two months obviously, as more than half the allotted period is over already. I am not to be blamed, as I was informed this week only that my office was ready. I am yet to get the required staff, which is a minimum requirement.
Q: Have you talked to the special investigation team (SIT) led by ADGP (crime) IPS Sahota that was formed earlier?
A: I will summon it also, to know what it has done, so far. The investigation will be complete in all respects.
Q: What is your opinion on the state’s handing over the sacrilege case to the CBI?
A: Well, they have to do their job, and I will do mine independently. I told the government when I was approached (for leading the inquiry) that I would take the investigation to its logical end but require no interference.