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Punjab Sacrilege: 7 Years On, 3 Dera Followers Get Jail, All Parties Want Credit

Punjab Sacrilege: 7 Years On, 3 Dera Followers Get Jail, All Parties Want Credit

Two men were acquitted for want of evidence in the 2015 case in Moga’s Malke village, which was one of several such incidents in Punjab at the time

As a court in Punjab’s Moga on Thursday concluded a case of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib — sentencing three Dera Sacha Sauda followers to three-year jail — political parties have been eager to take credit. This case was one of many such instances across Punjab in 2015.  

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) immediately took credit, saying that “nefarious protection” to culprits by the Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress is “finally over”.

The Akali Dal, along with the BJP, was in power at the time, while Congress was in power from 2017 to early this year. 

In a series of tweets, Raghav Chadha, AAP’s Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, said justice has prevailed under the leadership of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

But Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was deputy chief minister for a brief period before this year’s assembly elections, said the conviction is a result of a “long legal battle” fought by his party.

The Akali Dal, in turn, argued that the investigation by a special team formed by the then Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal — president of the party — has led to the conviction. 

Party leader Parambans Singh Romana underlined that there’s no conviction yet in the case of sacrilege at Bargari village in Faridkot — the most prominent of these incidents, also because two protesters seeking action died in police firing after it.

Mr Romana, President of Youth Akali Dal, said the opposition at the time had forced the SAD-BJP government to transfer the Bargari case to the CBI. “But this Moga sacrilege case which also happened in the same year… today we have conviction in the case,” he tweeted.

BJP’s Manjinder Sirsa had a slightly different argument, that the jail term is not severe enough. He said its “disgusting” that the AAP was “celebrating just three years’ imprisonment”.

In this case, torn pages of Guru Granth Sahib were found on the streets of Malke village in Moga district, around 200 km from state capital Chandigarh. A case under Sections 295 (intent to insult the religion) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code was registered against then-unidentified people at Samalsar police station.

In October 2018, five followers of Dera Sacha Sauda — headquartered at Sirsa in neighbouring state Haryana — were arrested. 

Of them, Pirthi Singh of Baghapurana, and Amardeep Singh and Mithu Mann of Malke village, were on Thursday sentenced by the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Rahul Garg. The two acquitted for want of evidence are Satpal Singh and Devinder Singh.   

Police have said that Dera Sacha Sauda followers were seeking revenge from the Sikh community as they felt their guru — Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, in jail now for rape and murder — had been insulted when Sikh religious leaders called for his boycott. Sections of the Sikh community had taken offence to Gurmeet Ram Rahim dressing up like a Sikh guru at a function some years ago.




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