Truth of Behbal Kalan must come out
Chandigarh, April 11: Shiromani Akali Dal, the once Panthic party, has successfully scuttled the probe into police firing on Sikh protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in 2015. The sensitive issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib with which these firings are associated is back on the centre stage in Punjab’s electoral narrative. This may be a temporary relief to the party but that is a separate issue.
The probe was being carried out by a 5-member special investigating team constituted by the present Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh following 7-hour debate in the state Assembly on the recommendations of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission whose proceedings were boycotted by Parkash Singh Badal who was the chief minister in 2015 with his son and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal as the de facto chief minister in his capacity as the deputy chief minister. The home department was directly under Sukhbir Singh Badal.
One of the SIT members Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, a Punjab cadre IPS officer in the rank of inspector general of police, has been transferred from the probe team on the orders of the Election Commission taking cognizance of the complaint filed by Naresh Gujral, the Rajya Sabha member from Shiromani Akali Dal. He was carrying out the main investigation under the command of Additional DGP Prabodh Kumar and was the face of the team frequently interacting with the media. He is known to believe in sharing of information.
It is this transfer that has unleashed the Sikh anger again.
The basic issue is why should Badals be perceived to be scared of the truth of Bargari sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and Behbal and Kotkapura police firing coming out? The protests were staged at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan following sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari. The Bir of Guru Granth Sahib was stolen from Burj village on June 1 and its pages were found scattered on the streets of Bargari in October. In-between, posters had appeared in Bargari challenging the Sikhs to find out the Bir that was claimed to have been hidden in Bargari. The police action was characterised by utter failure and indifference.
Those who were arrested in the Bargari and Burj cases after the change of government in 2017 are followers of Dera Sacha Sauda.
Sukhbir Singh Badal continues to claim that Shiromani Akali Dal is party articulating the Sikh concerns.
Is arresting culprits responsible for sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the collateral damage not a Sikh issue? Has Shiromani Akali Dal stopped voicing the Sikh issues for which this party was created on December 14, 1920 by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee?
The Badals might have succeeded in their design for the time being but it can have heavy political cost like in 2017 when this was a major issue in the Sikh domain that went against this once party of the Sikhs.
The Sikh stream has turned volatile again and that too at the time of Lok Sabha elections. Election is supposed to be the game of perception and Badals are losing this game in the Sikh domain.
Nothing can be said at the moment on its impact on electoral dynamics that is different from the Sikh religio-political dynamics, although there is no compartmentalisation.
Badals should clarify as to whether they are in favour of the truth coming out or not.
The SGPC and the Akal Takht too must explain their positions on the probe to unravel the truth. These two highest Sikh institutions have suffered heavy collateral damage in the process.