Sacrilege incidents: Assembly session after inquiry panel submits entire report, says Punjab govt
Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) panel still to submit supplementary to Bargari report besides three reports on other incidents in state; tenure ends on August 30.Updated: Aug 12, 2018 13:37 IST
The Punjab cabinet will meet to announce the date for the assembly session only after the commission of inquiry headed by Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) submits the entire report on Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege incidents in the state.
The commission, whose tenure ends on August 30, has submitted its final report on the sacrilege incident at Bargari village of Faridkot district (on October 12, 2015) and the police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan two days later that killed two Sikh protesters.
However, the panel has to submit a supplementary to this report on the reply of former police chief Sumedh Singh Saini, who has been indicted by it for the police firing. The remaining three parts of the commission’s report, which cover sacrilege incidents in other parts of the state after Bargari, are also to be submitted.
A section of the ruling Congress is in a dilemma on making the report public as it has linked the sacrilege incidents to the Akal Takht’s pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda’s Gurmeet Ram Rahim in September that year.
“Even though the dera head has been convicted and is serving life term, the dera’s vote bank is still intact. The Congress does not want to earn its wrath,” a party insider said.
But rural development minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said the report can be tabled only after the commission submits its entire report. “The government will convene a session after it gets the final report from the panel,” said Bajwa. According to sources in the government, the panel is likely to submit the remaining three parts within a week or 10 days.
Under pressure from parallel jathedars
The government is also under pressure to table and act on the report with parallel jathedars (heads) of the Akal Takht — appointed at a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ (congregation) in November 2015 — still continuing their protest at Bargari. They had started an indefinite sit-in at Bargari on June 1 this year demanding that the report be made public.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh got a breather by announcing that his government will table the report along with action taken on it in the House. He later announced to hand over the probe into the two police firing incidents at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura on October 14, 2015, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
But the protesters are not ready to accept a CBI investigation.
“What has the CBI done in the past three years after it was handed over the Bargari sacrilege probe?” questioned Dhian Singh Mand, who is leading the protest. “Our protest is a morcha (front). Devotees are pouring in every day. It can continue for years till our demands are met. We want the government to take action against the cops indicted by the commission and officially reveal details on the involvement of the dera in the sacrilege.”
‘Govt shying away from tabling report’
Former leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira alleged the Amarinder government is shying away from tabling the report.
“The first part of the report covers the main incidents. Why can’t the government table it? The Amarinder government is playing vote-bank politics. Like Akalis, the Congress too does not want to reveal involvement of top dera managers in the sacrilege incidents,” the rebel Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said. The report also states that former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal secured the pardon for the dera head.
“Though the CM has so far taken a ‘no-vendetta’ line against the Akalis, he cannot afford not to table the report. The anti-Badal lobby within the government and the party sees the report as ammunition against them in the panchayat and zila parisahd elections due in September as well as the Lok Sabha polls slated next year,” a senior Congress MLA.