Sacrilege chargesheet naming Sukhbir eclipses swearing in of Harsimrat Badal

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, May 30: Five time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal sat in the front row looking glum as their family member Harsimrat Kaur Badal was sworn in as the minister in the Narendra Modi government in her second inning.

She took oath in English. The third time MP from Bathinda was food processing minister in the previous Modi government.

A newspaper report in the morning had caused tremors in the religio-political domain in Punjab. This report referred to the challan filed by the special investigation team on May 28 that has named former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in the cases relating to sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015.

The chargesheet that has been quoted in the news report states categorically that the incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib were a “pre-planned  handiwork of then deputy chief minister sukhbir Singh Badal, then director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini and Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda”.

The chargesheet has been filed by IGP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh who has been posted back to the SIT from where he had been shifted out by the Election Commission on the complaint filed by the Akali Dal.

Kunwar Vijay Partap is one of the five members of the SIT headed by ADGP Prabodh Kumar. However, he is known as the face of the SIT. His transfer from the SIT might have delayed the filing of chargesheet  after the election process had been set in motion.

Only Sukhbir and Harsimrat have won from the Akali Dal  while all other candidates lost with two of them trailing at third position.

This election witnessed strategic shift in the electoral dynamics in the state with the Sikhs distancing from the Akali Dal towards the Congress. On the other hand, the Hindus supported the Akali Dal-BJP alliance due to Narendra Modi factor. The BJP has asserted that the improvement in Akali Dal’s vote share claimed by Sukhbir is due to Modi factor.

The chargesheet has brought out one new dimension and that is the transfer of additional director general of police (intelligence) Hardeep Dhillon who was replaced by a much junior officer in the rank of deputy inspector general of police. The order was issued on October 10, 2015. The sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari was reported on October 12, 2015.

Another report today appeared in a paper quoting Parkash Singh Badal that he was willing to state on oath that he had no hand in sacrilege. He may be perfectly right.

However, there is another aspect on which he has kept his lips sealed all along. That issue is the pardon that he secured for  Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim. He was exonerated of the blasphemy charge on September 24, 2015. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and his associates were summoned at his official residence to engineer this pardon that had to be withdrawn after angry protests from the Sikhs.

Why is Parkash Singh Badal silent on this issue? This action of his further damaged the highest institutions of Akal Takht and the SGPC whose  credibility stand eroded.

The judicial process has now set in. However, the issue here is the political fallout.

One can never imagine that the president of 98-year Shiromani Akali Dal that was constituted to fight religio-political battles of the Sikhs would be named in a case of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. The naming itself is damning for this once Sikh party.

Jagtar Singh

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