Crucial to sacrilege probe is summoning of Akal Takht chief to Badal’s official residence


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, November 15: The investigation by special investigation team into cases relating to the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 would enter crucial phase tomorrow when former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal would be questioned at his residence in Chandigarh.

His son and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and film actor Akshay Kumar would be the next to be questioned.

The Akali Dal today demanded that Inspector General of Police Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh should be dropped alleging bias. It may be mentioned that the summons to the three have been issued under his signature. Badal had earlier been summoned to present himself in Amritsar circuit house that was violation of the rules and the same has been rectified.

His comment that there was nothing wrong in summoning Badal in Amritsar as he had the facility of government vehicles and was also moving about in the state addressing political conferences has evoked strong reaction. This statement was uncalled for. As per the rule, a person above 65 years of age has to be given the option of presenting himself at the place of his or her choice.

Akali Dal secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema today said Kunwar Vijay Partap was not only unprofessional but also vindictive and as such, he should be replaced.

The same has been denied by the said officer.

The summoning of Badal is crucial to the probe and it is multi-dimensional at the political level. Five time chief minister and that too from the once Panthic party that is Akali Dal facing probe on the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in itself is a political setback. But then he was the chief minister and the issue was handed in a cavalier manner going by the reports of the two judicial commissions. SIT is only taking the investigation to the logical conclusion.

One of the most crucial aspects of that situation in 2015 is the pardon secured for Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh by summoning Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and his associate members of the highest clergy to official residence of the chief minister in Chandigarh. This issue is not covered under the criminal law. However, it is this aspect that leads to the politics of sacrilege and the attitude of the then ruling party.

Akal Takht is considered to be the supreme temporal body of the Sikhs with its Jathedar having the authority to summon Sikhs for religious misconduct, not vice versa. This has been the tradition associated with this supreme Sikh institution for prayer and politics.

The Akal Takht had issued directive in 2007 calling upon the Sikhs to boycott Dera Sacha Sauda and its followers. Badals secured the pardon to end this boycott. The move, however, boomeranged and this pardon had to be withdrawn. In the process, both the Akal Takht and the SGPC were further damaged as institutions. The SGPC has released full page ads in newspapers defending this pardon.

The Badals have not come out with any explanation as to why the jathedars were summoned to residence of the chief minister in violation of the religious code of conduct associated with such institutions.

Several members of Dera Sacha Sauda have been arrested in the sacrilege case. The Bir of Guru Granth Sahib went missing from gurdwara in Burj Jawahar Singhwala on June 1, 2015 and the Dera chief was pardoned in September. Posters had appeared in Bargari claiming that the Bir was in that very village near Burj. It was not taken seriously.

Why were the jathedars summoned to the residence of the chief minister? What was the urgency in granting pardon to the Dera chief in the blasphemy case?

These are the aspects that Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal have not explained so far.

Jagtar Singh


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