2015 sacrilege case: Named as accused, dera chief yet to be grilled by SIT
Even 11 months after jailed Sirsa dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was named accused in a case connected with Bargari sacrilege, Punjab Police’s special investigation team (SIT) probing the 2015 sacrilege cases never attempted to question him.
In July 2020, after the arrest of seven dera Sacha Sauda followers in a case relating to the theft of a ‘bir’ (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib from a gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala in 2015, the SIT-led by former inspector general of police Ranbir Singh Khatra had named Ram Rahim and dera’s three national committee members—Sandeep Bareta, Pardeep Kler and Harsh Dhuri—accused in this case. The new SIT led by inspector general of police SPS Parmar, too, has not initiated process to question dera chief so far
Despite claiming in the charge sheet filed in the ‘bir’ theft case that the order to carry out sacrilege was given by Ram Rahim, who currently in jail in Haryana, the SIT is yet to file any official request for permission to interrogate him. The SIT probing sacrilege cases never visited the dera headquarters in Sirsa even as it claimed the conspiracy was hatched there.
The ‘bir’ was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village gurdwara on June 1, 2015. On October 12, 2015, torn pages of the ‘bir’ were found scattered in front of a gurdwara in the adjoining Bargari village, resulting in an outrage across the state and death of two Sikh protesters in police firing.
The SIT in its charge sheet had claimed that it was Ram Rahim who ordered to carry out sacrilege to avenge insult of sect followers by a Sikh preacher. “Some dera followers arrested in connection with sacrilege revealed that Mohinderpal Singh Bittu, who was killed in a Nabha jail in 2019, told them that the sacrilege was executed at the behest of the dera chief. During a diwan (religious congregation) in on March 22, 2015, Harjinder Singh Manjhi, a Sikh preacher, asked some dera followers to remove their lockets or leave. Bittu raised the issue with Bareta, Kler and Dhuri, who saw it as an act of sacrilege and decided to take revenge. The sacrilege conspiracy was hatched thereafter,” the SIT charge sheet says.
However, the SIT had immediately initiated the process to declare the accused national committee members proclaimed offenders (PO) after which the court declared them PO in January.
An SIT member said, “Ram Rahim was named accused on the basis of statements of accused dera followers, who claimed Bareta, Kler and Dhuri had told them that orders were given by dera chief. But right now, all the three are absconding, so there is absence of linking evidence in this case so far. Dera head questioning is on the list but our priority is to nab the absconding dera committee members first. After which we will question him.”
SIT probing police firing too
didn’t reach Ram Rahim
In April 2019, the SIT probing Kotkapura and Behabl Kalan police firing cases secured orders from a Faridkot court to question Ram Rahim. However, the Sunaria jail authorities refused to let the team meet the Dera head stating that permission from the local deputy commissioner was not there. After initial denial by Rohtak administration, the SIT got permission from the Haryana government in June 2019 for questioning Dera head in jail. However, the SIT never went to question Ram Rahim.