Punjab on alert after Dera man accused of sacrilege killed in Patiala jail
A follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect accused in a case of sacrilege was killed on Saturday by two Sikh inmates of the Nabha maximum security jail in Patiala where he had been imprisoned, the police said.Updated: Jun 23, 2019 10:36 IST
Amid a security alert in Punjab, followers of the Sera Sacha Sauda began to gather Sunday morning at Kotkapura Dera where the body of Mahinderpal Bittu, the main accused in the Bargari sacrilege who was killed in Patiala’s New Nabha prison on Saturday, was brought.
The Punjab Police have thrown a tight security cordon around the Kotkapura Dera, 50 km from Patiala.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered an inquiry into the fatal assault on the main accused in the Bargari sacrilege case at the New Nabha prison.
Additional director of police (ADGP – Prisons) Rohit Chaudhary will head the fact-finding committee, which has been asked to submit the report within three days. The inquiry will be in addition to the mandatory judicial inquest into the murder of the accused, Mahinderpal Bittu, who was arrested last year, an official spokesperson said.
The Chief Minister also ordered tightening security in the state in the wake of the murder and appealed to all communities to maintain peace and not to believe rumours. Those involved in the attack would face punishment for the crime, he asserted.
The incident occurred around 5.15 pm, when Bittu (49), a follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect was attacked by other inmates. He was rushed to Civil Hospital at Nabha, where he was declared brought dead, said the spokesperson.
Initial investigations have revealed that Bittu, a resident of Faridkot, was attacked by Gursewak Singh and Maninder Singh, who were in jail in a murder case.
The police registered a first information report (FIR) against the two inmates. Concerned over the possibility of violent protests in areas where the Dera wields influence, the police also sounded a security alert.
“It was negligence on the part of the jail administration. Mahinderpal came out of his barrack and he was attacked. I have suspended the jail superintendent,” jail minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said.
Later, he also suspended an assistant superintendent, two warders of the jail for lapse in security.
Bittu was the main accused in Bargari sacrilege case and arrested by a special investigation team (SIT) in June 2018. He was considered to be close to Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who in jail serving a life term for the murder of a journalist and a 20-year sentence for the rape of two female followers.
The SIT, probing the three-year-old sacrilege incidents in Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari, had named Bittu as the main conspirator.
The SIT has claimed that he stole a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, from a from a Gurdwara, strewn pages from it on the streets and threw the book into a drain sparking outrage among the Sikh community
He was apparently angry against the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and Sikh hardliners for locking horns with Ram Rahim Singh and opposing the release of his movie Messenger of God.