File photo of Sukhbir Badal and Parkash Singh Badal | @Ravonium/Twitter
Text Size:

Chandigarh: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Punjab Police are engaged in an ugly battle over which agency should be probing the politically sensitive sacrilege cases involving former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his MP son Sukhbir Singh Badal. 

Both the CBI and a special investigating team (SIT) of the police claim to be investigating the five-year-old cases that could put the Badals in the dock ahead of the 2022 assembly polls in the state. 

Both are carrying out “parallel” probes on the ground, reporting widely varying findings, even as a protracted legal tussle plays out between them in the Supreme Court.  

Earlier this month, the SIT named Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim as an accused in one of the three sacrilege cases. The SIT led by DIG Ranbir Singh Khatra also submitted a challan in the case against seven other accused in a trial court at Faridkot. 

A few days later, the CBI moved the trial court to restrain Khatra’s team from conducting a parallel probe.

While the Congress government, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, alleges that the CBI is working at the behest of the central government and wants to “save” the Badals who are allies of the BJP, the Akali leaders are quick to point out that it was the Congress that had demanded a CBI inquiry into these cases in 2015 when the sacrilege incidents took place.


Also read: 67% marks in board exams aren’t the end of the world. Just ask this Punjab IPS officer


The sacrilege incidents

Considered to be a living Guru by the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib was desecrated in a series of incidents in 2015 during the SAD-BJP rule. Though their investigation of the three major incidents of sacrilege was handed over to the CBI, the Badal government was assailed for drawing a naught in nabbing the culprits. 

Within a month of coming to power, the Captain Amarinder Singh constituted a commission of inquiry in April 2017 under a retired high court judge Ranjit Singh to probe the incidents.

The commission’s report submitted in August 2018 concluded that followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda were responsible for the desecration and that the Punjab Police then under the Badals did not pursue that line of investigation. This could be because, states the report, the Akali government wanted the dera’s support for the elections. 

Armed with the commission’s report, the chief minister initiated the process to withdraw the investigation into the sacrilege cases from the CBI and hand it over to the Punjab Police, which works directly under him as he also holds the Home Affairs & Justice portfolio

The CBI, which had been probing the sacrilege cases since November 2015, contested the move to return the cases.

‘CBI overlooked vital evidence’

“The CBI wants to just sit on the cases. In June 2018 a Punjab Police team under Khatra working on some other sacrilege cases stumbled upon pertinent evidence of the cases CBI was investigating,” says Punjab cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. “This evidence was shared by Khatra with the CBI and yet they did not do anything because the evidence led to the dera and that would then lead to the Badals.”

Rejecting the evidence shared with them, the CBI in July 2019 filed a closure report in the sacrilege cases in the court. 

“A month later, however, the CBI asked the court permission to re-open the cases wanting to continue with the probe. CBI’s flip flop is most revealing,” Randhawa adds. 

Legal battle

A protracted legal battle between the CBI and the Punjab government to investigate the cases went up to the Supreme Court which in February this year dismissed CBI’s plea. 

The CBI filed a review petition in the Supreme Court which is pending a hearing. In the meantime, the Punjab government quickly handed over investigation of all the sacrilege cases to Khatra’s SIT, which hit the ground running, nominating the dera chief in the case. 

The Akalis now allege that the Congress is running a political vendetta campaign. 

“The Congress is clearly indulging in political vendetta. When the Akalis were in power, the Congress demanded a CBI inquiry into the incidents,” says Parambans Singh Romana, President of the Youth Akali Dal. “Rahul Gandhi went with his entourage to the then President Pranab Mukherjee submitting a memorandum seeking a CBI probe. Now they are saying that the CBI should not investigate the case.”  


Also read: How a protest meeting at a Chandigarh hotel infected 13 Punjab govt officers


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

2 Comments Share Your Views

2 COMMENTS

  1. The Word SIT Is Basically a Smoke Screen Used By Corrupt Persons Like The Badals And Capt Singh to Cover Up A Case Using The Punjab-Police who Cant Even get a Conviction In Cases Where The Mofucs Are Known Offenders and Bang To Rights. Why ? Because There Rank And file Is Full Of Corrupt Pond Life From The Villages in The PPS Cadres. in The Last 25 Years The Fear Of Law/Order System Created By The British has been Dismantled By these Chee Chees In Politics Who Hide Behind The Garb Of Religion/Respectability.

  2. Congress appointed SIT for sacrilege investigation but why didn’t it appoint any SIT to probe drug mafia?
    Congress advocate separation of religion from politics and now it is mixing religion with politics,why?
    Hindu leaders in congress should shut up on sacrilege issue. Sunil jakhar adding fuel to fire. He is neither sikh nor he is more hurt than an ordinary sikh. Let sikhs or captain speak on this issue. Captain should gag him.His statements against akalis are uncalled for. He never spoke on 600 year old sacrilege of ram janam bhumi then why he is interfering in sikh religious matter.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here