Badals secured Akal Takht pardon for Dera Sacha Sauda head: Ranjit Singh panel
The report, accessed by HT, also reveals that then director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini spoke to Badal hours before the police opened fire at Sikh protesters at Kotkapura chowk between 5 to 6 am on October 14, 2015.Updated: Aug 01, 2018 17:57 IST
The report of the Justice Ranjit Singh (retired) commission, set up to probe the sacrilege incidents and police firing at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura, has placed on record that former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy Sukhbir Badal secured Akal Takht pardon for the Dera Sacha Sauda chief in a blasphemy case.
The report, accessed by HT, also reveals that then director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini spoke to Badal hours before the police opened fire at Sikh protesters at Kotkapura chowk between 5 to 6 am on October 14, 2015. Hours later, the police fired at protesters at Behbal Kalan village, leaving two Sikhs dead.
The panel has also cited evidence that the Faridkot district administration had warned the police against firing at the gathering staging a ‘peaceful’ protest and annexed an hour-long video footage from four CCTV cameras to show police started the lathicharge, followed by water cannons and teargas shells on protesters at Kotkapura Chowk. The footage shows the protesters fleeing and then coming back again and clashing with the police.
Saini, who was removed as Punjab police chief by the SAD-BJP government on October 24, 2015, was served summons by the commission in October and November 2017 and for the third time in June this year. He was asked to either appear in person or answer the panel’s queries through an affidavit.
In his reply to the June letter, Saini said he received a call from Badal at 2am on October 14, 2015, and he was in touch with police officers on the ground in view of the situation. But he did not answer what instructions were passed to him by the CM or what he told his officers.
The report has termed the use of force at Kotkapura as “unwarranted” and recommended that Saini be named in the FIR (first information report) and his role be probed further. The commission has also sought action against IG Paramjit Singh Umranangal, DIG Amar Singh Chahal and senior superintendents of police (SSPs) SS Mann, Charanjit Sharma and Raghbir Singh, along with two gunmen.
The dera tangle
The panel, formed by the Captain Amarinder Singh government, has also pointed towards a “link” between the desecration at Bargari in Faridkot and the pardon to Sirsa-based dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
In case of the dera pardon, the panel has annexed a letter purportedly written by the dera chief to the Akal Takht and based its findings on the statements made before it besides a video clip of Giani Gurmukh Singh, former jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, who had openly accused Badal and Sukhbir of “dictating” terms to the clergy for the pardon that was revoked after an outrage among Sikhs.
Among the five high priests who had issued the edict in favour of the dera, he had alleged Badal called him along with Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and then Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Mal Singh to his residence in Chandigarh and asked them to pardon the dera chief in Sukhbir’s presence.
The defiant jathedar was removed in April last year and was posted as head granthi of a gurdwara at Jind in Haryana. A special investigation team (SIT) has arrested dera followers for the Bargari sacrilege.
How situation flared up
Sept 24, 2015: Akal Takht issues pardon to Sirsa dera head followed by an outrage among Sikhs
Oct 12, 2015: Pages of ‘bir’ stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village in June found outside Bargari gurdwara
Oct 14: Police fire at protesters at Kotkapura, Behbal Kalan
Oct 24: Sumedh Singh Saini removed as DGP
Nov 10: Sikh groups convene Sarbat Khalsa against sacrilege incidents