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2015 sacrilege: Faridkot court grants bail to Ram Rahim in ‘bir’ theft case

2015 sacrilege: Faridkot court grants bail to Ram Rahim in ‘bir’ theft case

Notice issued to state for May 6 to file a reply on dera head’s two bail pleas in other sacrilege cases

Faridkot: A Faridkot court on Wednesday granted bail to jailed Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a 2015 sacrilege case wherein a “bir” (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib was stolen from a gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village in Faridkot district.

The dera head is lodged in Sunaria jail in Haryana’s Rohtak since August 25, 2017, after he was awarded a 20-year jail term for the rape of two disciples.

Punjab Police special investigation team (SIT), probing the 2015 sacrilege incidents, had nominated Ram Rahim as the main conspirator in the Bargari sacrilege and derogatory posters case. In March, the SIT filed chargesheets against the dera head in both cases following which the Faridkot court issued his production warrants asking him to appear via video-conference on May 4.

Ram Rahim on Wednesday appeared before the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Faridkot, Monica Lamba in connection with two cases related to the Bargari sacrilege incident. This is the first time the dera head has appeared before the trial court in connection with the 2015 sacrilege cases. The court of CJM supplied the copies of chargesheets filed by the SIT to the counsel of the dera head. The matter was adjourned for May 16 for hearing of arguments on framing of charges.

During proceedings, Ram Rahim’s counsel moved three applications seeking bail in FIR 63 (registered after a “bir” was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village, on June 2, 2015), FIR 117 (registered after derogatory posters were put up at Bargari, on September 24, 2015, night) and FIR 128 (registered after torn pages of a “bir” were found scattered near Bargari gurdwara, on October 12, 2015) at the Bajakhana police station. The court granted bail to Ram Rahim in “bir” theft case, while a notice was issued to the state government for May 6 to file a reply on the remaining two bail pleas.

The court directed to release the accused in the case connected to FIR 63 on furnishing of bail bond of 50,000 with one surety of the like amount, if not required in any other case.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Rajeev Mohan appeared for Ram Rahim. Meanwhile, no lawyer from the state government was present in the courtroom when Ram Rahim appeared through video-conference. The public prosecutor later sought time to file a reply.

In July 2020, Ram Rahim was nominated as an accused in the “bir” theft case and a supplementary chargesheet was filed against him weeks before assembly polls on January 27. The “bir” was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village gurdwara on June 1, 2015. On October 12, 2015, torn pages of the ‘bir’ were found scattered in front of a gurdwara in the adjoining Bargari village, resulting in outrage across the state and killing of two Sikh protesters in firing.

Last year, production warrants were issued for Ram Rahim’s physical appearance in the Faridkot court in the “bir” theft case but were stayed by the Punjab and Haryana high courts considering the law and order situation. The HC asked the SIT to question him at the Sunaria jail. Following this, the SIT interrogated the dera head on two occasions in November and December.

Recently, during the hearing on dera head’s plea seeking exemption from personnel appearance, the HC had ordered the trial court to continue the trial against Ram Rahim in three sacrilege cases through video-conference.

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