15th July, 2021 – Chandigarh: Six years and several investigations later, the last word on the sacrilege and police firing cases is yet to be heard.
While the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), under whose tenure the incidents took place, rues that it’s a victim of propaganda on the issue and suffered much in the 2017 Assembly elections, the incumbent Congress has failed to solve the vexed issue and ensure justice.
A cross-section of voters The Tribune spoke to feel the issue is still hot and can affect the electorate’s mind in the 2022 Assembly elections. Septuagenarian Harwinder Singh of Tarn Taran, a Panthic region, says: “No result will ever come out of the sacrilege probes. First Akalis were blamed for the incidents and now the Congress for inaction. The Congress CM had taken an oath on a gutka to clear the truth. At the village level, the incidents of sacrilege can weigh much on voters’ mind.”
Tejinderpal Singh, 40, of Rasulpur village in Tarn Taran, however, thinks the issue does not matter much. “People have a short memory. The sacrilege incidents are long forgotten. If it wasn’t the case, Akalis leaders, especially Sukhbir Singh Badal and Harsmirat Kaur Badal, would not have won the General Election in 2019 after the 2017 Assembly poll debacle.
In Amritsar, Satinder Singh, a jeweller, says the sacrilege issue is definitely alive. “It is a sensitive matter. The Congress government needs to provide justice and bring out the truth before the elections. Otherwise, it will suffer like the previous regime.”
In Jalandhar city, Rajbir Singh, an advocate, says: “People across the state are hurt by the sacrilege issue. Neither Akalis nor the present Congress government has ensured justice. The parties just want to keep the issue alive for their political gains.” Echoing the same sentiments, Surjit Singh, a Jalandhar resident, says the issue will have a huge impact on the fortunes of both parties in the coming Assembly elections.
Sarbjit Singh, a farmer in Sangrur, also feels the sacrilege incidents and the unresolved issues of the farmers will cost some political parties dear. Dr Manjit Singh and advocate Ratesh Bhatija of Faridkot stress the sacrilege issue remains a highly emotive one in the Malwa belt as justice is not met.
Six years on, several sits, commissions, but no justice
- June 1, 2015 The first incident of sacrilege reported with the theft of “saroop” of the Guru Granth Sahib from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village in Faridkot
- Sept 24 Posters bearing derogatory language against the holy book come up in Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari villages
- Oct 12 Pages of the Guru Granth Sahib found strewn in Bargari, leading to protests
- Oct 14 Police open fire on protesters, killing two protesters in Behbal Kalan. Several injured in police firing and clashes in Kotkapura
- Oct 15 CM Parkash Singh Badal forms commission to investigate sacrilege incidents
- Oct 20 Police claim foreign agencies behind sacrilege; two held for receiving funds from Australia and Dubai
- Oct 25 DGP Sumedh Singh Saini removed. Suresh Arora takes over
- Nov 1 State proposes CBI probe
- Nov 20 Cabinet passes amendment to Section 295A, IPC, to include life imprisonment. House passes amendment in March 2016. CBI begins probe
- March 2017 Capt Amarinder Singh government takes over
- April 15 Capt Amarinder Singh announces commission to probe all sacrilege incidents
- June 2018 SIT claims Dera Sacha Sauda followers carried out sacrilege, arrests 10 persons
- Sept 11 New SIT formed to probe police firing. IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap is key investigator. SIT questions actor Akshay Kumar, ex-CM Parkash Singh Badal, ex-Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal and ex-DGP Sumedh Saini. It also tries to question the dera head
- June 22, 2019 Main accused Mohinderpal Singh Bittu killed in Nabha jail by other inmates
- July 13 CBI files closure report, dismisses the DIG’s report, says no proof against Dera Sacha Sauda
- Feb 2021 Another SIT announced to probe sacrilege incidents at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari villages
- April HC quashes the SIT under Kunwar Vijay; Punjab sets up two SITs to probe Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases
- May SIT submits chargesheet, reaffirms role of Dera Sacha Sauda in sacrilege, upholds earlier inquiry report by DIG, arrests six dera followers
Courtesy : The Tribune