Monday, March 27, 2023
HomePoliticsSC clearance for SIT probe into Punjab sacrilege cases could be damaging...

SC clearance for SIT probe into Punjab sacrilege cases could be damaging for Badals, SAD

The sacrilege cases had cost the Akalis the 2017 assembly polls and SAD is now staring at a rebellion. Any adverse SIT report could cause further damage to the party.

Text Size:

Chandigarh: The Supreme Court’s decision allowing the Punjab government to continue investigating the cases of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, and not giving it to the CBI, is another blow to opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is yet to recover from its dismal show in the 2017 assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Akalis were in power when incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib rocked the state in 2015. In the protests that followed, the police shot dead two persons at Kotkapura in Faridkot district. The then government faced severe criticism over its alleged mishandling of the situation.   

The Congress government, after it assumed power in 2017, formed the Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission to probe the case. The commission filed its report in 2018, and it held the then state government led by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the firing incidents. The report also said there was a need to further probe the incidents of sacrilege.

The state government the formed an SIT, which filed a chargesheet last year, pointing fingers at former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, a former Akali MLA and five others in the case of police firing on protesters.   

With the investigation back with the state police, the SIT will also continue to grill the Badals in the case. It is now expected to file a supplementary chargesheet regarding the alleged role of Badal and then DGP Sumedh Singh Saini.   

“We will take the investigation to its logical conclusion,” Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced in the state assembly last week following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday.

Also read: Congress, SAD come out in support of SGPC ban on TikTok videos inside Golden Temple

Opposition in trouble 

The Akalis have been in trouble ever since the multiple incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari in 2015. The government first failed to trace the accused and then during protests, granted police permission to fire at the crowds, resulting in the death of two youths.   

The sacrilege was one of the major issues on which the 2017 assembly elections were fought. The Akali-BJP combine suffered a humiliating defeat in the polls as the state brought Congress back to power. 

The Akalis had handed over the investigation to the CBI. After the Congress formed an SIT in 2018, it led to a legal tussle.   

The Supreme Court decision came on a plea by the CBI, which had moved the apex court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld a notification of the state government to withdraw the investigation from the central agency. 

An adverse SIT report could now be politically damaging for the Akalis who are staring at a rebellion in the party besides a weakening relationship with the BJP.

SAD general secretary Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema said no justice can be expected from the Punjab government’s SIT. “The main witness to the case has been murdered and there are allegations that Congressmen are involved in it. The other witnesses are being approached. If this is the quality of investigation going on then we only expect political vendetta to play out through the SIT,” he told The Print.  

Also read: Video of Punjab women duped and stuck in Muscat goes viral, Amarinder asks for MEA help

Amarinder gets a breather

The SC decision has also come to the rescue of the chief Minister who was himself facing a party rebellion over his government’s performance. A section of MLAs has been voicing dissatisfaction of chief minister’s working on various public forums. 

“All the MLAs have been demanding action against the Akalis in the Bargari cases and the SC decision clears all hurdles,” said a Congress minister. In August 2018, he added, the assembly had resolved that there would be swift action against those indicted in the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report.   

The report had indicated that the incidents of sacrilege were the handiwork of the influential Dera Sacha Sauda and that there was a possibility that the Akalis did not take action, as they allegedly did not want to slight Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim ahead of assembly elections in the state. 

“It has been two years and the probe is still on,” the minister added. “It was being delayed due to one legal point or the other. Now it is only a matter a time before the Badals pay for their crimes.” 

Also read: CAT quashes Punjab DGP appointment, says govt tailored criteria for ‘pliable’ officer


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular