Punjab government orders 'strict action.'
With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) handing over papers relating to the sacrilege cases to the Punjab Police months after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) walked out of the Union government, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday charged that it showed that the SAD had been scuttling the process to prevent their complicity in the cases from being exposed.
The documents and files relating to the cases were handed over to the Punjab Police on Wednesday hours before the deadline set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the CBI to do so was to expire. The CM termed it a “victory” for the Punjab government and an “endorsement” of its stand that the CBI had, all these months, been trying to scuttle the investigation by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of Punjab Police at the behest of the SAD, which was part of the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre till September 2020.
“It is clear now Harsimrat Badal, as Union minister, had been pressurising the Central agency to obstruct the SIT probe by refusing to hand over the case files as she knew that her party’s role in the entire affair would be exposed once the police take the investigation to its logical conclusion,” said Capt Amarinder.
Pointing out that his government had withdrawn consent to the CBI to probe the cases as far back as in 2018, after the Punjab Assembly unanimously resolved to do so, the CM said the SIT was also constituted then to take over the investigation.
The Central agency had, for more than two years, been persistently refusing to hand the case files back to the state, the CM said.
The shocking part, according to the CM, was that the CBI adamantly refused to hand over the case diaries even after the High Court, in January 2019, upheld the state government’s decision, and again, in February 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed the CBI’s appeal challenging the HC judgement.
The incidents of sacrilege occurred between June and October 2015 following theft of the sacred Guru Granth Sahib from a Gurudwara in Burj Jawaharsinghwala, Faridkot and discovery of torn pages from the Holy Book in Bargari, Faridkot. They caused widespread discontent and outrage amongst members of the Sikh community.
These incidents led to largescale protests and agitations in October 2015. The retaliatory action taken by the police led to injuries and death of two persons. In 2015, the then Akali Dalled Punjab government had transferred investigation of the sacrilege incident to the CBI.