Punjab CM blames Akalis for 'scuttling' probe

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (PTI Photo)

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday blamed the Akalis for "scuttling" the probe into three incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and accused them of pressurising the CBI to file a closure report in the investigations.

During the Zero Hour on the third day of the Monsoon Session of the Punjab Assembly, he held the Akalis responsible for their "failure" to bring the culprits to book.

Despite the Akalis' efforts to "obstruct justice", his government would take the case to its logical conclusion and ensure justice for the victims, Singh told the Assembly.

He was responding to AAP legislator Aman Arora who had asked the state government to come clean on the closure report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Singh asked the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which was in power in 2015, why it handed over the probe into the sacrilege incidents to the CBI when it had the state police for investigation.

"You (Akalis) did not rely on your police and what was the point in giving (the probe) to the CBI," he asked.

He accused them of handing over the probe to "delay" the investigation and alleged that they pressured the CBI to submit a "hurried" closure report.

Singh alleged that the central agency did not conduct a proper inquiry and deliberately did not make any headway in the case on the directives of then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal.

Amid noisy scenes in the assembly, the chief minister claimed that there had been no investigation into the incidents for three years because of the Akalis.

"The CBI had shown an interest in challenging the state's decision to withdraw three sacrilege cases from it, but then suddenly and inexplicably decided to file its closure report. It is obvious that the agency had acted under political pressure," he alleged.

The agency had filed its closure report last month in a special CBI court in Mohali, giving a clean chit to the accused in the three incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 in Faridkot.

The previous SAD-BJP government had handed over the cases to the CBI for probe. One was about the theft of a 'bir' (copy) of the holy book from a Burj Jawahar Singh Walagurdwara on June 1, 2015, the second one was putting up of hand-written sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25 and the third was the torn pages of the book being found at Bargari on October 12, 2015 in Faridkot.

Last year, the Punjab government had issued a notification for withdrawing investigation from the CBI after a resolution was passed in the assembly. The matter was handed over to a special investigation team of the Punjab Police.

Singh informed the House that the CBI's "failure" to make any progress in the investigation had been taken note of by the Punjab and Haryana High Court while reading out a judgement in a case filed by some accused police officers.

The court, in its verdict in January, had stated, "… the notification withdrawing the consent is pursuant to resolution passed by the Vidhan Sabha which in clear terms states that the investigation of cases given to CBI needed to be taken back.

"Besides, during the course of hearing, this court called for the case diary of the CBI and perused the same. It was evident that investigation in the cases had hardly made any headway," it said.

Earlier, Akalis led by SAD MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the investigation into sacrilege incidents was handed over to the CBI by previous SAD-BJP government on the demand of Sant Samaj, Panthia organisations, the AAP and the Congress.

The chief minister directed the advocate general to oppose the closure report in the CBI court, saying the agency had no jurisdiction to file the report in the light of the observations made by the high court, an official spokesperson said.

Singh issued the directive on basis of the judicial and legal position shared with him by Advocate General Atul Nanda after a detailed examination of the facts and circumstances preceding the closure report, the spokesperson said. PTI CHS VSD AAR

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