Panel report tabled in Punjab Assembly, points finger at then CM

Chandigarh, Aug 27: A report submitted by the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) commission into sacrilege incidents and subsequent police firing in 2015 in Punjab was tabled in the Assembly on Monday, with its supplementary report pointing a finger at then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for police action against anti-sacrilege protesters.

The five-page supplementary report, submitted on August 16, says: Earlier, the commission had, in its report, observed that the facts may indicate the involvement of the CMO (Chief Minister’s Office), but it is now clear that the (then) Chief Minister and the CMO were apparently kept in the loop about the action proposed by the police and the action finally taken at Kotkapura.

Ahead of the report’s tabling, Shiromani Akali Dal legislators led by party President Sukhbir Singh Badal protested outside the Assembly here and flashed the report that had been leaked before it was submitted to the state government.

A debate on the report is likely to be held in the Assembly on Tuesday.

The one-man panel had probed the sacrilege incidents reported from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari, Gurusar and Mallke villages and police firing at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura on Sikh protesters in 2015.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has repeatedly assured that those found guilty of trying to create religious disharmony in the state through such actions would be punished. He has already announced a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the firing incidents.

The commission was set up in April 2017 by the Congress government to investigate sacrilege of the holy Guru Granth Sahib and religious texts of other faiths when the SAD-BJP coalition government was in power in Punjab.

This supplementary report may be read in conjunction with the findings and observations recorded by the commission from pages 50-55, the commission said.

It concluded that the police had kept Badal in the loop while taking action to break the sit-in protest by the Sikhs against the sacrilege.

The earlier view expressed by the commission on page 50 to 52 of Part-1 of the report needs to be clarified… (then) Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was in touch with the (then) DGP as well as the district administration and cannot be considered ignorant about the action which was finally taken by the police at Kotkapura, the report said.

The commission indicted Badal on the basis of a written statement submitted by then DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, who was removed from the post after the firing incident.

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