Dera Sacha Sauda hatched conspiracy to cause unrest in Punjab, says special investigation report

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Still Kicking: Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is serving a 20-year jail term for raping two women disciples at his ashram in Sirsa, Haryana. The jailed rapist still adorns his organisation’s online presence as seen in this snapshot from their Facebook promoting a ‘live’ event

By Prabhjot Singh | Opinion |

It was Dera Sacha Sauda that hatched a conspiracy to cause unrest in Punjab. The provocation was ban on screening of a feature film of the Dera Chief Ram Rahim Singh.

This is the major finding of a Special Investigation Team headed by Inspector-General of Police, Border Range, SPS Parmar.

The 497 page report of the SIT was released on Saturday by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann to a select group of Sikh leaders.

The release of the report has already set in motion an animated debate not only about its select release but also about its findings.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which had been at the receiving end for the three incidents of sacrilege committed in Faridkot district at Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala villages, however, gets a clean chit in the report.

The Sikh leaders who were given copies of the report include Major Singh Pandori, Chamkaur Singh, Bhai Rupa, Resham Singh Khukhrana and Baldev Singh Joggewala. Never before has any such sensitive inquiry report been released only to a select group of people or leaders.

The State had an opportunity to release it by placing it on the floor of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha at the just concluded Budget session. However, the AAP government preferred to avoid tabling it in the State legislature. This is the first time that a report has been made public in this manner.

Though the investigation of the sensational sacrilege cases that were on the centre stage both in the 2022 Assembly elections and also the recent Sangrur Lok Sabha bye-election have remained mired in controversies, its findings have generated yet another animated debate.

The case, besides being investigated by different Special Investigation teams, was also entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) before it was withdrawn from the central agency.

Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, now a member of Punjab Vidhan Sabha from Amritsar North, also remained associated with one of the Special Investigation Teams, before he quit after the Punjab and Haryana High Court made some observations. Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh quit as Inspector-General of Police and joined Aam Aadmi Party.

The report released on Saturday (July 2) by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was of the SIT headed by Inspector-General Border Range SPS Parmar. The five-member SIT constituted on April 4 last year on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had submitted its final report to DGP VK Bhawra and DGP Intelligence Prabodh Kumar on April 21 this year.

The 467-page report counters several claims made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its investigation. The CBI had found no evidence of the Dera Sacha Sauda’s involvement and had filed a closure report. The investigation report was also submitted in a challan before a Faridkot court earlier.

The Parmar Committee squarely blamed the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda behind all the three sacrilege cases.

The report has named Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh as the conspirator besides naming several followers, including the three who have been absconding.

The first case related to theft of Sri Guru Granth Sahib from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala gurdwara on June 1, 2015. Subsequently on September 25, two posters containing derogatory remarks against Sikh religion, Sikh preachers and Guru Granth Sahib were found pasted outside Dhodha Peer Gate at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala. The third incident was reported on October 12, when the “aangs” of Guru Granth Sahib were found strewn outside the Bargari gurdwara as well as in the village streets.

The SIT report said accused Sukhjinder Singh alias Sunny, Shakti Singh, Baljit Singh, Randeep Singh alias Neela, Ranjit Singh alias Bhola, Nishan Singh, Narinder Sharma and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (undergoing sentence at Sonaria Jail, Rohtak) were involved in the theft incident and later in throwing around the sacred “aangs” of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

According to the report, Sukhjinder Singh alias Sunny, Shakti Singh, Baljit Singh, Ranjit Singh alias Bhola and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh were involved in the second incident regarding pasting of sacrilege posters.

Three other Dera followers — Harsh Dhuri, Pardeep Kler and Sandeep Bareta — were involved in the conspiracy and were still to be arrested. They have been declared proclaimed offenders.

The investigation report said there was a direct link with the Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, and the accused, who are followers of the Dera. “It is evident from material/evidence collected by the SIT of Punjab Police that the accused had direct nexus with the management of the Dera.

The report said prime accused Mohinder Pal alias Bittu (later killed in Nabha jail by inmates) and his companions were upset due to the non-release of the film ‘MSG-2’, following which Bittu organised a three-day dharna at Moga.

The accused were agitated at the non-release of the film and hatched the conspiracy to take revenge. Accused Nishan Singh and Baljit Singh stole the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib and later the accused used two cars and a motorcycle to carry out their operations.

What action the AAP government proposes to take on the report is still not clear. How the government now takes this report to its logical conclusion will be watched with tremendous interest.

Prabhjot Singh is a veteran journalist with over three decades of experience covering a wide spectrum of subjects and stories. He has covered  Punjab and Sikh affairs for more than three decades besides covering seven Olympics and several major sporting events and hosting TV shows. For more in-depth analysis please visit probingeye.com  or follow him on Twitter.com/probingeye

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