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Punjab to take back sacrilege, police firing cases from CBI

Capt Amarinder said a special investigation team will be set up to probe sacrilege and firing incidents taken back from the CBI.

punjab Updated: Aug 29, 2018 08:57 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Punjab assembly,CBI
Only last month, Amarinder had transferred the firing incidents at Kotkapura which injured one person and Behbal Kalan where two protesters were killed, also to the CBI. (HT Photo)

The Punjab assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution to take back probe into sacrilege incidents of Guru Granth Sahib and police firing at protesters from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The resolution, seen as a well-orchestrated move, came after a seven-hour debate during which speaker after speaker from the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) urged chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to punish those held guilty for sacrilege and firing incidents in the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report that was tabled on Monday.

The CM, in his concluding speech, said he accepts the sentiments of the House and asked rural minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa to move a resolution taking back the investigation from the CBI. Amarinder said a special investigation team (SIT) will be set up to probe sacrilege and firing incidents taken back from the CBI.

It will include the first desecration case at Bargari on October 12, 2015, which the previous Badal regime had handed over to the CBI in November 2015 amid massive protests in state. The CBI has still to submit a report on its findings or progress of investigations.

Only last month, Amarinder had transferred the firing incidents at Kotkapura which injured one person and Behbal Kalan where two protesters were killed, also to the CBI. The move had not gone down well within the Congress rank and file.

During the debate, the ruling Congress and the AAP, the principal opposition party, displayed unusual bonhomie and went after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The Akalis, who are at the receiving end in the report, boycotted the debate, calling it “bogus and orchestrated by government with help of radical Sikhs to defame the party”.

At the outset, assembly speaker Rana KP Singh assured the SAD, which was allotted 14 minutes out of two hours kept for the debate based on strength of its members (14) in the House, that they will be given ample opportunity to be heard and the time can be extended till midnight.

However, the Akalis wriggled out of it by saying they be allowed to speak first. They held a parallel ‘mock session’ in the precincts of the assembly wherein they trashed the panel report. On Congress and AAP demand, the debate was telecast live till 8 at night. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal later said the debate had proved the “collusion” between Congress and AAP.

The commission was set up by the Amarinder Singh government in April 2017 to investigate sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib and religious texts of other faith when the SAD-BJP government was in power in the state.

‘Book dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim too’

Punjab jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa set the tone for the resolution by asking the chief minister to let Punjab Police handle investigations by taking it back from CBI. He said the report has indicted Badal for being in loop on police firing at Kotkapura at Sikh protesters and securing Akal Takht pardon for Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim to facilitate release of his movie. Randhawa also declared to free the SGPC from clutches of Badals.

AAP legislator HS Phoolka demanded attempt to murder case against cops who have been issued a “simple” show cause notice by the Captain government and questioned government’s compulsion to hand over probe of both Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases to CBI. “You are catching the small fish. What about the crocodiles? You should punish all those involved, including the dera head. History has given you a golden opportunity to punish those who are guilty of sacrilege and killing innocents. It will not forgive you, if you don’t,” Phoolka added amid thumping of desks by ruling benches.

The demand was repeated by minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who went on his knees to seek the cases be taken back from CBI, saying Amarinder had once called him his son. He also accused key witness Himmat Singh, a former priest at Golden Temple, who has resiled from his statement made before the Ranjit panel of “betraying” the community.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 08:56 IST