Bargari case: Chief Minister Amarinder seems to have succumbed to police pressure

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, August 9: Punjab police officers are known to be holy cows. They just can’t be touched. There is just one difference in case of these two species that have the state protection at different levels. There is  law for the cows. The protection in case of Punjab police credited with restoring ‘normalcy, is unwritten.

It is perhaps for this reason that yet another case registered at Kotkapura relating to October 2015 firing on people protesting against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari has not named any police officer despite recommendations by Justice Ranjit Singh Commission constituted by Capt Amarinder Singh government to probe the incident of sacrilege and firing on protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan.

Significantly, it was the Home department that has recommended the registration of the case in this sensitive matter.

The logic advanced by the senior police officials as reported in a section of the media is that it would demoralise the police force. This is the usual argument. The reality is different.

The police force at that time was headed by Sumedh Singh Saini who was subsequently replaced. The Ranjit Singh Commission has pointed finger at him too. Of course, the buck does not stop at him.

Saini was one of those police officers who were actively engaged in crushing militancy and means did not matter during that period. It is only lower level officials who have  faced action and that too in a few cases.

It is pertinent to mention that a case relating to disappearances in Ludhiana that is going on against Saini in the court for more than two decades has not made much progress. This case did not relate to militancy.

The security officials in every conflict zone in India now have this privilege that is protection. It is both on the record at times and off the record. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act provides legal protection to the army when deployed in conflict zones. Punjab remained under this act for years.

The hardliners are staging protest since June 1 last at Bargari demanding action against the culprits responsible for sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the police officials involved in firing at the two places. Two persons were killed at Behbal Kalan.

The Parkash Singh Badal government had handed over the sacrilege case to the CBI but no progress has been made. Now Capt Amarinder Singh too has made similar announcement. The Commission has recommended further investigation but has not recommended probe by CBI as such.

Both Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal boycotted the probe panel. Sukhbir was the home minister at that time. The people who have been arrested in the sacrilege case are devotees of controversial Dera Sacha Sauda whose chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh is in Rohtak jail convicted of rape.

The Bargari sacrilege was one of the three main issues that reduced the tally of Akali Dal in 2017 Assembly election to  15, the other two being drugs and illegal sand mining.

Capt Amarinder Singh has been under attack for opting for collaborative politics with the Badal family. He has been perceived even within the Congress to be protecting the people in opposition.

Justice Ranjit Singh has submitted only one part of the report so far. Complete report would be laid on the floor of the Assembly at its forthcoming session.

That would be the real test for Capt Amarinder Singh.


Jagtar Singh


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