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Key findings of Ranjit Singh panel have counter arguments too

HT lists some of the key observations that have counter arguments too in the report itself, leaving it open to questions.

punjab Updated: Aug 19, 2018 09:30 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
sikh,Ranjit Singh panel,Ranjit Singh commission
Justice Ranjit Singh (retd)(HT File )

The report of the Ranjit Singh commission on incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and police firing on Sikh protesters in October 2015 has set off political blame game in Punjab. But some of key observations have counter arguments too in the report itself, leaving it open to questions.

Here, Hindustan Times lists some of them: 

Pardon to dera chief

Observation: Key witness Himmat Singh, brother of Gurmukh Singh, erstwhile jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, appeared before the commission and gave details on the background leading to the grant of pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda head (Gurmeet Ram Rahim). He has stated the manner in which (then) chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal organised the grant of pardon.

He said on September 16, 2015, all the jathedars in Punjab were called to the official residence of Badal at Chandigarh. They went there in an Innova vehicle allotted to Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh. (Then minister) Daljit Singh Cheema, on the direction of Badal, read the letter written in Hindi wherein it was mentioned that the dera head had sought pardon of the Panth through his letter.

Himmat Singh has stated that his brother opposed the grant of pardon after reaching Amritsar. Other jathedars followed him to his residence. As per the witness, this happened in his presence.

Counter observation: The contents of the affidavit filed by the witness may sound very explosive but primarily are based on certain facts during which the witness may not have been present to see these happenings. He may have learnt certain facts from his brother. The commission has called the record maintained at the gate of the then CM. Entry of this vehicle number is not reflected in the register but entry of vehicle of Cheema is there. Even Gurmukh has spoken about this fact on social media.

Also read: ‘Highly confidential’ Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report leaked. Read full report

Testimony of ex-SSP, suspended after police firing

Observation: The version of ex-SSP Charanjit Sharma would let the cat out of the bag. This witness has stated that IG Paramraj Singh Umranangal had shared instructions that he received from then DGP (Sumedh Singh Saini) with the officers that they were to get dharna lifted. It is, thus, clear that the operation at the Kotkapura chowk was under Umranangal’s charge and he was a conduit between the DGP and the action taken to get dharna lifted.

Counter observation: The version of Charanjit Sharma is required to be examined with care and caution… At Behbal Kalan, where two persons were killed, police were present while public was sitting on dharna peacefully. It is the arrival of Sharma and police party with him that seems to have disturbed the situation.

Dharna after Bargari Sacrilege

Observation: Around 3pm (on October 12, 2015), the public decided to hold dharna at the Kotkapura chowk. The police did not make much effort to stop the public from proceeding to Kotkapura. Ideally, the police should have made an arrangement to stop the public from sitting on dharna again once the chowk was cleared. The decision to release those arrested on the morning of October 13 was not a wise move.

Counter observation: One has not been able to understand why the police or senior police officers were so keen to lift the dharna which was to protest against a very serious religious issue that had hurt sentiments of Sikhs. Public sitting on a dharna cannot be termed unreasonable.

Police firing at Kotkapura

Observation: On October 14, closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage shows stone-pelting protesters coming back to the chowk. The entire police force is then seen running away like cowards.

Counter observation: The police came back firing and got the chowk cleared of protesters.

Dera involvement in sacrilege

Observation: The failure of the police to seriously pursue the line indicating involvement of dera followers would not have any valid justification. May be, the fear of premis and the dera head was too much for ordinary police officers to bear.

Counter observation: Many special investigation teams (SIT) were formed and did nothing. The SIT headed by DIG Ranbir Singh Khatra was set up in November 2015. It was only because of laborious efforts of this SIT to go into the background of incidents of sacrilege in Faridkot and other parts of the state that dera men were arrested.

First Published: Aug 19, 2018 09:29 IST