CBI hands over case files related to 2015 sacrilege incidents to Punjab Police

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Chandigarh, Feb 4 (PTI) Documents and files related to the 2015 sacrilege incidents have been handed over by the CBI to the Punjab Police, a state government statement issued here on Thursday said.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had last month directed the CBI to hand over all case diaries and papers related to the 2015 sacrilege incidents, including alleged desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, to the Punjab Police within a month.

“The documents and files relating to the cases were handed over to the Punjab Police hours before the deadline set by Punjab and Haryana High Court for the CBI to do so was to expire,' the statement said.

It said, “Notably, the Director Bureau of Investigation had written to Director CBI on January 18, 2021 to return the entire record to the state police without any further delay after withdrawal of investigation of sacrilege cases from CBI and consequent return of the entire record including evidence gathered in cases transferred to CBI on November 2, 2015…” The statement said the “CBI on Wednesday finally handed to the state police papers relating to the sacrilege cases”, which Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said “clearly exposed that the Shiromani Akali Dal (earlier part of the NDA govt) had been scuttling the process to prevent their complicity in the cases from being exposed”.

The chief minister termed it as a “victory” for the state government and an endorsement of its stand that “the CBI had, all these months, been trying to scuttle the investigation by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of Punjab Police at the behest of the SAD, which was part of the ruling NDA at the Centre till September 2020.” “It is clear now that Harsimrat Badal, as union minister, had been pressurising the central agency to obstruct the SIT probe by refusing to hand over the case files as she knew that her party's role in the entire affair would be exposed once the police takes the investigation to its logical conclusion,” Singh alleged in the statement.

“SAD's complicity in the 2015 cases and their subsequent efforts to scuttle a fair and free probe would now be exposed with the completion of the SIT probe,” he said, asserting that all those found guilty would be identified and punished under the law.

The SAD hit back and said the chief minister should stop trying to “hide his failure to do anything” to bring those who had committed sacrilege to book.

Senior SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema, in a statement here, hit out at the chief minister for his tweet that “…handing over papers within months of @Akali Dal walkout (snapping ties with NDA) from Centre proves that @ Harsimrat (Kaur) Badal scuttled the probe”.

Cheema, who is a spokesperson of the SAD, said the chief minister had exposed both his “political compulsions as well as his nervousness through a motivated tweet”.

“The chief minister has deliberately tried to twist a judicial intervention which is totally unwarranted and out of context. It is shocking that the chief minister is now playing a friendly game with the BJP,” he alleged.

Cheema said, “Former union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal does not need a certificate from someone who had always betrayed the interests of Punjab and was even now working against Punjab's interests vis-a-vis the farmers' agitation.

“Punjabis understand you (chief minister) are under intense pressure to toe the BJP led government's line on all issues to save your chair. This is why you have provided an opening to the BJP to divert attention from the ongoing Kisan Andolan.” The chief minister said nobody will be spared, irrespective of their political affiliation or position, involved in the sacrilege incidents.

Pointing out that his government had withdrawn consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the cases as far back as in 2018, after the Vidhan Sabha unanimously resolved to do so, he said the SIT was also constituted then to take over the investigation.

“The central agency had, for more than two years, been persistently refusing to hand the case files back to state,” Singh alleged.

The agency, which had earlier filed a closure report in the matter, went on to constitute a new investigative team in September 2019 “with the clear and obvious aim of preventing the state government from conducting its own impartial, fair and speedy probe,” he added.

The chief minister said the CBI had allegedly refused to hand over the case diaries “even after the High Court, in January 2019, upheld the state government's decision, and again, in February 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed CBI's appeal challenging the HC judgement”. PTI SUN VSD AQS AQS