6 years since Bargari sacrilege, SIT probe revolves around local dera followers, Ram Rahim yet to be grilled

Published on Oct 12, 2021 01:10 AM IST

The accused Dera Sacha Sauda followers, who were purportedly in direct link with the sect headquarters for hatching the conspiracy to commit Bargari sacrilege, are either absconding or have died

A police vehicle torched in anti-Bargari sacrilege protests in Faridkot district in 2015. Punjab Police personnel were accused of opening fire on Sikh protesters.
A police vehicle torched in anti-Bargari sacrilege protests in Faridkot district in 2015. Punjab Police personnel were accused of opening fire on Sikh protesters.
ByParteek Singh Mahal, Faridkot

Even as it has been six years since the Bargari sacrilege incident took place in Faridkot district, the probe of Punjab Police’s special investigation team (SIT) has remained limited to the local Dera Sacha Sauda followers, who allegedly carried out the desecration, and it is still to question Sirsa-based sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Torn pages of a bir (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib were found scattered at Bargari village on October 12, 2015.

The accused men, who were purportedly in direct link with the sect headquarters for hatching the conspiracy, are either absconding or have died.

An official privy to the investigation said that in the absence of evidence linking the “chain of command”, the questioning of the dera chief will not be really helpful as the go-between must be quizzed first to unravel the sequence of events.

The three absconding members of the dera’s national committee —Pardeep Kler, Harsh Dhuri and Sandeep Breta— remain untraced after they were named as accused in 2018 in the Moga sacrilege case.

The SIT claims that the instructions to execute sacrilege at Bargari, Moga and Gurusar were given by the three to the district dera committee members.

On Monday (October 11), the SIT told the court that Kler, Dhuri and Breta have not been traced and no record of any property on their name was found.

The main accused in the Bargari sacrilege case —Mohinder Pal Singh Bittu — was killed in the Nabha jail in 2019. The SIT probe claimed that Bittu was in a direct link with the dera headquarters and received instructions to carry out sacrilege from the sect.

“But it will be difficult for the SIT to establish this link on the basis of his statements in the court after his death,” said a lawyer linked with the case.

The then Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had handed over the probe into the three sacrilege incidents to the CBI on October 26, 2015. In July 2019, the central agency filed a closure report in the three sacrilege cases but withdrew it later to reinvestigate the matter. The Congress government, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, however, challenged the CBI move and took back the cases and handed over the probe to the SIT-led by then inspector general of police (IGP) Ranbir Singh Khattra in April 2020.

In July 2020, the Khatra-led SIT filed a chargesheet in the court naming dera head Ram Rahim Singh as an accused in a case of theft of a ‘bir’ from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village on June 1, 2015.

The SIT claimed that Bittu in his statement confessed that the dera head had ordered execution of sacrilege. However, the proceedings were stayed by the Punjab and Haryana high court ordering the state government to appoint a new SIT head. The HC also directed the police to take into account evidence collected by the CBI and file a supplementary challan. IGP SPS Parmar was appointed the new chief of SIT in February this year.

The Parmar-led SIT arrested six dera followers for Bargari sacrilege in May this year and filed a chargesheet against them, naming Kler, Dhuri and Breta, who have been declared proclaimed offenders, as conspirators.

The SIT, which received documents from the CBI eight months ago, is yet to file a supplementary chargesheet in the bir theft case. Also, the chargesheets filed by by Parmar-led SIT says that the dera suggested carrying out of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib to avenge insult of the sect head. But the chargesheets filed in both the FIRs do not have any mention of the dera head’s role in the episode.

Besides, the SIT has not visited the dera headquarters or questioned any top sect member yet.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Parteek Singh Mahal is a multimedia correspondent based at Faridkot in Punjab. He covers medical education, politics and Punjab police.

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