Punjab CM for reopening of CBI probe into sacrilege case, warns of law and order problem

Rejecting the ‘hurried’ CBI closure report in the Bargari sacrilege case, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said it had caused a deep sense of hurt and anguish among the Sikh community and should be immediately withdrawn to ensure further detailed investigations in the matter.

The CBI had not only overlooked certain crucial aspects of the investigation but had failed in its duty to identify the culprits and bring them to book, as was expected of the premier agency, said the Chief Minister.

Demanding reopening of the case for further investigations by the country’s top investigative agency, Captain Amarinder said “for reasons best known to them”, the CBI had unexpectedly closed the case in an unusually hurried manner, which raised several questions on its handling of the matter.

Many aspects of the case, including financial transactions and linkages with foreign based entities, had been conveniently ignored in the CBI probe, the Chief Minister noted, seeking a review of the closure decision. The CBI had also not identified and examined certain key witnesses/suspects whose examination could have shed light on the cases dismissed by the CBI in its closure report, he added.

The previous Punjab government had, in November 2015, handed over to CBI the investigation of three sacrilege cases – theft of a ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib from a Burj Jawahar Singh Walagurdwara on June 1, 2015, putting up of hand-written sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25 and torn pages of the holy book being found at Bargari on October 12, 2015.

The CBI, it may be recalled, had filed its closure report on July 4, giving a clean chit to the accused in the 2015 Bargari sacrilege case. The agency had rejected the findings of the Punjab Police SIT in the case.

The Chief Minister pointed out the CBI was controlled by the central government, led by the BJP which was an ally of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at the time of the sacrilege incident. The needle of suspicion in the Bargari case had been pointed at SAD by the Justice Ranjit Singh (Retd) Commission, he observed, adding that, given this context, the CBI decision to file closure report was highly questionable.

The unexpected decision of CBI to file the closure report had pained not just the Sikhs in India and but also the large Sikh diaspora abroad, he added. The sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was a grave and sensitive issue which could not be dismissed in this manner, without taking action against those guilty of perpetuating the crime, said the Chief Minister. Such an act, he warned, could have serious repercussions for the state’s law and order, which could in turn have major consequences for the country.

Given the sensitivity of the issue, the need for a fair and impartial probe into every aspect of the issue was needed to take the case to its logical conclusion, Captain Amarinder said.