The special investigation team looking into the police action that followed incidents of sacrilege in Punjab in 2015 has filed a chargesheet against a former Shiromani Akali Dal legislator and five senior police officers, The Times of India reported on Thursday. The investigators filed the chargesheet in a judicial magistrate’s court in Faridkot on Tuesday.
The 2,000-page chargesheet named former Kotkapura MLA Mantar Singh Brar, then Ludhiana Inspector General of Police Paramraj Umranangal, former Senior Superintendent of Police Charanjit Singh Sharma, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Paramjit Singh Pannu, Deputy Superintendent of Police Baljit Singh and station house officer Gurdeep Singh Pander, reported The Tribune. They were charged under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code and under the Arms Act.
In September 2018, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had said a special investigation team would conduct a time-bound inquiry into the incidents of sacrilege in Bargari in Faridkot district and in other places across the state, and of police firing in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. These incidents took place in 2015, when Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal was the chief minister.
Two people were killed and 60 injured when the police opened fire at anti-sacrilege protestors in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. A supplementary report, prepared by the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission in 2018, had pointed to the “apparent involvement” of Badal in the police action in Kotkapura.
The chargesheet said that an investigation was under way against Badal, his son and Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal, former Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini and former Deputy Inspector General Amar Singh Chahal. The team will file a supplementary chargesheet after it completes its inquiry.
The chargesheet said that the incidents of 2015 were “a pre-planned handiwork” of Sukhbir Singh Badal, Sumedh Singh Saini and the Dera Sacha Sauda outfit, reported Hindustan Times.
The investigators claimed that in order to execute the plan to use force to disperse protestors, Umranangal had called Pannu and Charanjit Singh to Kotkapura. A tear gas squad was also called and weapons to be used against the protestors were kept in hiding, the chargesheet said, according to The Tribune.
The chargesheet said that several witnesses had named Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his role in the police firing.
The Justice Ranjit Singh Commission had found that the protests were linked to the pardon of Gurmeet Ram Rahim by the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs. Ram Rahim had upset the Sikh community when he dressed up as the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, which many Sikhs consider to be sacrilege. He was censured by the Akal Takht, but pardoned later. Ram Rahim Singh is currently in jail following a rape conviction in 2017.