A day after police released the two brothers arrested on the charges of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, the duo claimed that cops tortured them and offered police jobs to make them confess to having committed desecration at Bargari village in Faridkot district.
Flanked by Panthic leaders Panthpreet Singh, Baljit Singh Daduwal and Daler Singh Kheriwale, brothers Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh addressed mediapersons at a huge gathering near the gurdwara of their village, Panjgrain Khurd, in Moga district. They claimed that the Parkash Singh Badal government had lost face by their arrest.
Refusing to talk to the media in the absence of the leaders, the brothers spoke only after Panthpreet and Daduwal arrived. Jaswinder said: “The police picked us up on October 16 and took us to the Moga police station. We were beaten up and handed over to the crime investigating agency (CIA) of the Faridkot police on October 17. The CIA tortured us, claiming it had our recorded phone conversations with foreign handlers and we had no escape. They offered us police jobs if we confessed to committing sacrilege. We refused to give in to their demands, saying that we are baptised Sikhs and would never think of committing such a crime.”
Suffering from a spinal injury after the police lathicharge in Faridkot during the October 12-13 protest, Jaswinder’s younger brother Rupinder was brought to the press conference from the ‘black flag’ protest held as part of the nine resolutions passed by Sikh outfits at Bargari on October 25. With his legs placed on a table, Rupinder read out a statement handed over to him by the Panthic bodies. “The false allegations against us have been exposed. The Sangat (Sikh community) did not want disrespect to the ‘ang’ (torn pages) of Guru Granth Sahib found at Bargari by handing these over to the police. They (police) picked us up and tortured us to make us confess that we committed sacrilege. We did not give in to their torture and the truth is out before the people of Punjab. We will keep protesting till the culprits are exposed but appeal to all not to let anti-social elements take advantage of the situation and disturb peace of the state,” Rupinder said in his statement.
Two other youths of the village, Gurlal Singh Rinka and Amandeep Singh, who too were arrested and later released, alleged that the police not only beat them up but also took off their clothes, turban, ‘kirpan’ and ‘kara’. “They used our turbans to tie our legs and beat us up with shoes after undoing our hair. We were also pinned down on the floor and our legs were pulled apart to make us scream with pain. They mocked us by asking us: do you want Khalistan?” Gurlal said.
Amandeep claimed that the CIA staff would ask them the same questions every five minutes. “They also poured water on us to choke us. We were later told that the two brothers from our village had also been arrested. After we were released, we went for the brothers’ court hearing and the policemen told us they would inform higher officials that we were their supporters,” Amandeep said.
After the youths recounted the “police torture”, Panthpreet claimed that when the police could not force a confession out of the arrested brothers, they demanded that a lie-detector test be conducted. “Has the Punjab police ever demanded such a test in drug trafficking cases? Has it demanded one against those who killed innocent youths in encounters during the days of terrorism? Police di maar naal te kandaan vi bol pendiyan ne (even walls can be made to speak by police torture). But they could not break these youths,” he added.
Panthpreet further said: “They have now ordered a CBI probe, but it has no mention of the police firing on Sikh protesters at Behbal Kalan village. This incident should be brought under the purview of the CBI probe. The government has failed in its plan to defame Sikhs by arresting them for sacrilege and now it is trying to beat a retreat by passing the case to the CBI.”
‘Do not brandish swords’
Though Panthic groups announced that they would continue with the resolutions passed at Bargari village and gherao Akali ministers, MPs and SGPC members after November 15 if the culprits of the sacrilege were not exposed, they appealed to the protesters not to brandish swords and cause inconvenience to commuters or shopkeepers. “Anyone who tries to disturb peace will be seen as working as per the designs of other agencies,” the leaders said. On whether they would attend the Sarbat Khalsa (congregation of Sikhs) called at Amritsar on November 10, the leaders said discussions on the issue were still on.