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Sacrilege cases: Who ordered firing wasn’t my probe mandate, says Zora Singh

The Zora panel too had indicted police for not probing desecration cases and “unwarranted” firing at Behbal Kalan where two Sikhs were killed and seven injured.

punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2018 09:17 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sacrilege cases,Zora Singh,Parkash Singh Badal
Justice Zora Singh (retd)(HT File )

The indictment of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, retired director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini and several other cops by the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission for firing on protesters in Kotkapura has raised questions over the commission of inquiry set up by the previous Badal regime.

The Justice Zora Singh (retd) Commission was formed soon after the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari and police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan plunged Punjab into turmoil in October 2015.

The panel submitted its report on June 30, 2016. It had made scathing observations on role and “misleading” statements of some police officers present on the spot. But it was silent on who ordered the firing.

Speaking to HT on Monday, Justice Zora Singh said: “I gave my report on evidence, both in form of written and oral statements. There were no conjectures. To find out who ordered police to open fire on protesters was not in the terms of reference of my commission.”

The terms of reference given by the then Akali government were broad — to investigate Bargari sacrilege and police firing incidents. The Congress government set up the Ranjit panel in April last year terming Zora panel report “inconclusive ”.

Justice Zora Singh refused to comment on findings of the Ranjit panel and action taken on his report. “It was up to the then government to take or not to take action on my report,” he said.

The Zora panel too had indicted police for not probing desecration cases and “unwarranted” firing at Behbal Kalan where two Sikhs were killed and seven injured. It had said none of the suspects were thoroughly interrogated by the SIT, not to speak of custodial interrogation.

The Zora panel had also debunked police theory that the protesters at Kotkapura were armed saying there is ample evidence on record to show cops had opened fire. It quotes then SDM Harjit Sandhu who admitted to giving the orders but “only to fire in the air”.

For Behbal Kalan, it had recommended the erring officers be identified and chargesheeted within six months and complicity of then Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma be probed and if evidence warrants, he should face trial. Though Sharma was suspended, no chargesheet was filed and he was reinstated by courts.

First Published: Sep 04, 2018 09:16 IST