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Cong MP Partap Bajwa accuses Pb govt of 'mishandling' 2015 sacrilege cases


Press Trust of India Chandigarh
Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa on Saturday accused his own party government in Punjab of "mishandling" the 2015 desecration cases of Guru Garnth Sahib in Bargari and elsewhere in the state for which the Amarinder Singh government is already facing flak from the opposition.
Bajwa's criticism to his own party's government followed two days after the CBI sought to scuttle the state government's move to withdraw the three sacrilege cases from the agency by telling a special court in Mohali that there is no statutory provision to withdraw a case from the CBI after entrusting it once for the probe.
A Rajya Sabha MP and senior party leader, Bajwa accused the state government of having failed in acting against the culprits involved in desecration of the religious scripture during its entire two-and-half-year term.
This case has been mishandled. It is not going in proper direction, Bajwa said on Saturday while pointing out that the Congress, before coming to power, had promised to put those guilty of sacrilege incidents behind bars.
Bajwa's criticised the government days after Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa questioned the state's Bureau of Investigation Director and Special DGP Prabodh Kumar's letter to the CBI last month seeking further probe" by it into the three sacrilege cases of Faridkot.
Describing Kumar's letter as "wrong", Randhawa had also asked the chief minister to clarify it.
The state government has already been under fire from the opposition for its contradictory stands over the matter.
While Amarinder Singh had demanded reinvestigation by the CBI, state Advocate General Atul Nanda had said the CBI had no jurisdiction in the matter after the state government withdrew the cases from it last year.
Bajwa, former Punjab Congress chief, also asked the chief minister to take action against Nanda for not properly guiding the government in this matter and also against the Bureau of Investigation Director Prabodh Kumar for exceeding his jurisdiction in writing to the CBI for further probe.
Punjab government's legal wing could not pursue this matter the way it should have. Punjab AG should have guided the government before the passage of resolution by the Punjab assembly last year on whether it can withdraw cases from the CBI," said Bajwa.
As per law, if an investigation into a particular case is being done by any government agency, then no other authority could initiate its investigation. If the CBI was investigating the matter, the Punjab police SIT could not probe it, said Bajwa.
In August 2018, Punjab assembly had passed a resolution to withdraw cases from the CBI and hand them over to the Punjab police special investigation team.
Previous SAD-BJP government had handed over three sacrilege cases -- theft of a 'bir' (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib from a Burj Jawahar Singh Wala gurdwara on June 1, 2015, putting up of hand-written sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25 and finding of torn pages of the holy book at Bargari on October 12, 2015 in Faridkot to the CBI for investigation.
Hitting out at Special DGP Kumar, who is also the chairman of the SIT probing the desecration and police firing incidents of 2015, Bajwa said the chief minister, who also handles home portfolio, should clarify if Kumar had taken his concurrence for writing to the CBI.
If no, then he (Kumar) exceeded his jurisdiction and the action should be taken against him, he said.
Head must roll down. If no action is taken against two of them, it means complicity goes till the top, Bajwa alleged.
The state government, meanwhile, has again decided to write to the Department of Personnel and Training for necessary directions to the CBI to return the cases to the state police, officials said on Saturday.
The officials endorsed the government action saying even the Punjab and Haryana High Court in January this year had upheld the legality of the state government's action seeking withdrawal of cases from the CBI.
The high court had given its ruling on a petition challenging the assembly resolution to withdraw the cases from the central investigative agency.
The CBI had on July 4 filed its closure report in the three cases before a special CBI court in Mohali, giving a clean chit to the accused Dera followers, including Mohinder Pal Bittu, in the three incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 in Faridkot.
Filing of the closure reports by the CBI prompted the state government to move the court seeking a copy of the reports, but the plea was dismissed by the court on July 23.
This has led the state government to file another application to the CBI court, on August 20, seeking a review of its July 23 order.
The CBI subsequently on August 26, moved the CBI court in Mohali, requesting it to keep the agency's closure reports in three cases in abeyance, saying further investigation was still on in these case.
The CBI had also referred to the Special DGP Kumar's letter to it for further probe into the three cases.
Chief Minister Singh had then described the CBI move as politically motivated and an attempt to scuttle the state government's efforts to take the sacrilege cases to their logical conclusion.
On August 29, the CBI counsel reportedly told the CBI court in Mohali that a case handed over to the CBI for probe could not be withdrawn in the absence of any statutory provision in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, which governors the CBI's functioning.

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First Published: Aug 31 2019 | 8:25 PM IST

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