Sacrilege incidents were pre-planned handiwork of Sukhbir, Saini, Sirsa dera: SIT
This is the first time that the SIT, set up by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government on the Punjab and Haryana high court’s direction, has pinned the onus of sacrilege on Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Saini and the dera.
A chargesheet filed in the court by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2015 sacrilege cases and police action thereafter during the Akali-BJP rule in Punjab has said that incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib were “a pre-planned handiwork of then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, then director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini and Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda”.
This sensational charge, likely to create fresh political ripples in Punjab, forms a part of the chargesheet, also known as challan, filed by inspector general of police Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh in a Faridkot court on Tuesday (May 28) against five police officials and a former Akali MLA in the case related to firing on Sikh protesters in Kotkapura.
This is the first time that the SIT, set up by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government on the Punjab and Haryana high court’s direction, has pinned the onus of sacrilege on Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Saini and the dera. ADGP Parbodh Kumar is the head of the SIT, while Kunwar Vijay Partap, IG Arun Pal Singh, Kapurthala SSP Satinder Pal Singh and PPS officer Bhupinder Singh are its members. The chargesheet, a copy which is with HT, has linked the sacrilege cases and a “pre-planned conspiracy” to transfer of then state intelligence chief Hardeep Dhillon.
“Dhillon, an officer well known for his competence and experience in Intelligence wing was transferred as ADGP intelligence on October 10, 2015, and in his place, a much junior officer of DIG rank, RK Jaiswal was asked to look after the work of intelligence wing. It is pertinent to mention here that there were three senior officers of ADGP/DGP rank, who were eligible and available for this posting. Jaiswal was also given directions to report to Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini,” says the chargesheet.
The SIT claims that it is a matter of record that a series of incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib happened soon after Dhillon’s transfer with first incident witnessed at Bargari on October 12, 2015. Around 15 cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib were registered between October 10 to October 30 in Punjab, says the chargesheet.
“At that time, Sukhbir Badal was the home minister. During questioning by the SIT, he was asked to explain the circumstances leading to ouster of a senior police officer from the post of intelligence chief and replacement by a DIG rank officer, but he could not give any satisfactory answer and told to ask then DGP. Saini was also asked the same question. But, he could not give any satisfactory answer either and told that then home minister could better explain it,” the chargesheet reads.
The SIT claims that the complicity of the transfer of intelligence chief by posting a much junior officer in his place and the incidents of sacrilege soon after, suggest in unequivocal terms that it was a pre-planned handiwork of Sukhbir, Saini and members of Dera Sacha Sauda, including its head.
Recalling that Dera Sirsa head Gurmeet Ram Rahim was granted pardon in a 2007-blasphemy case by Akal Takht on September 24, 2015, the chargesheet claims that a meeting between Sukhbir and Ram Rahim, was arranged by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, who was questioned by the SIT in November 2018.
“In this meeting, it was decided to ensure grant of pardon to the head of Dera Sacha Sauda by jathedar of Sri Akal Takht. It was also decided in the meeting to facilitate release of Dera Head’s movie MSG-II. Following this, MSG-II was released in Punjab on September 25, 2015, under police protection,” reads the chargesheet .
The SIT claims the active involvement of Akshay Kumar in the negotiations between Sukhbir and Dera Head was not without a reason.
“His own movie, ‘Singh is Bling’ was questioned by the Sikh masses. The movie of Akshay was also given the go-ahead by SGPC and released on October 2, 2105, a week after the release of Dera chief’s movie, MSG-II,” it says.
The SIT claims that Sukhbir was in Mumbai in September 2015 in connection with his meeting with investors. To corroborate its claims, the SIT has obtained certain details from the office, Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion, Chandigarh. The SIT, however, has not given any specific date and place, where the Sukhbir-Dera head meeting was held in Mumbai.
The police action on protesters, according to SIT, was an outcome of the conspiracy between high profile politicians and police officers of senior rank in connivance with the head of Dera Sacha Sauda and his followers. The SIT said that role of former CM Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir, then DGP Sumedh Singh Saini and then DIG Amar Singh Chahal is still under further investigation. While Sukhbir refuted the SIT charge, Akshay Kumar, in an interview with HT last year, had denied having mediated a meeting between Dera Sacha Sauda chief and Sukhbir Badal regarding release of the former’s controversial film. HT couldn’t reach out to Dera for its version.