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Row over Justice Ranjit Singh commission report: Ex-MLA Jalal denies writing letter on Sukhbir-dera head meet

The commission has probed the incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and police firing at Sikh protesters at Faridkot’s Behbal Kalan in 2015.

punjab Updated: Aug 23, 2018 10:07 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Justice Ranjit Singh,Shiromani Akali Dal,SAD
Harbans Lal Jalal, former MLA from Rampura Phul.

Raising another question mark on the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report, former MLA Harbans Lal Jalal has claimed that he never wrote a letter to the panel about a purported meeting between Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal at a Bollywood actor’s residence in Mumbai.

The commission has probed the incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and police firing at Sikh protesters at Faridkot’s Behbal Kalan in 2015.

The former legislator from Rampura Phul in Bathinda said he was never asked to file an affidavit by the panel either.

“Yes, I met Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) at his office in Mohali and talked about a meeting (between Sukhbir and dera head) during a casual conversation,” said Jalal while talking to HT.

The commission in its report cites a letter by Jalal that it received on October 9, 2017.

“The letter by Jalal reveals certain facts in connection with the grant of pardon to the Dera Sacha Sauda head. The commission then summoned him on oath when he confirmed that he had written the letter which was marked in annexure,” states the report.

Jalal, however, claims that he was never summoned by the commission. “I had gone to Forest Complex in Mohali to meet Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, whose office is also situated in the same building. Justice Mehtab was not in the office so I decided to pay a courtesy visit to Justice Ranjit Singh. Sirf darshan layi milan gaya si,” said Jalal, who won election as an independent candidate in 1971.

The commission report says when Jalal was examined, he narrated the incident (meeting) that took before the grant of pardon to the dera head.

“In this background, Sukhbir sent Takht Damdma Sahib jathedar Gurmukh Singh to the Akal Takht jathedar to get the previous hukamnama (diktat) ex-communicating the dera head withdrawn. This was done with an aim to arrange the release of Ram Rahim-starrer film MSG (Messenger of God) in Punjab. The film was expected to earn ₹300 crore if released in the state,” the panel report quotes Jalal as saying.

The report also states that the dera head had agreed to pay ₹100 crore to Sukhbir Singh Badal as party fund.

“The subsequent events in the wake of the withdrawal of the hukamnama took place as the promise of payment (by the dera head) was not fulfilled,” the ex-MLA is further quoted in the report.

Jalal, however, said, “I told him (Justice Ranjit) that these are strong rumours in my area. I also mentioned to him about one Jarnail Singh Hamirgarh who had slapped Sikandar Singh Maluka (former Akali minister) on the issue of descration of Guru Granth Sahib in our area. When I brought Hamirgarh to the commission office after few days, he was ready to give statement in writing.”

“Whatever I told Justice Ranjit without filing an affidavit I stand by that. Justice Ranjit Singh is a learned man and I don’t want to defeat the purpose of punishing those behind sacrilege,” he said.

The commission report says that Jalal narrated other incidents for which he was asked to submit affidavits but he did not turn up thereafter.

“Whatsoever has been stated in his letter has remained in the realm of hearsay. No cognisance of the same can be taken,” the report says.

Justice Ranjit Singh could not be reached despite repeated attempts.

Two days ago, a key witness in the case, Himmat Singh, had claimed that he was pressurised by the commission and jails minister Sukhjinder Randhawa to give statement against the Badals.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 23:29 IST