CHANDIGARH: Accepting the recommendation of the Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Commission, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh announced his government's decision to hand over the ongoing probe into the police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan villages that followed the Bargari sacrilege to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Commission was set up in April last year to investigate the incidents of sacrilege of holy Guru Granth Sahib and other religious texts.
Amarinder Singh also announced compensation and jobs for the victims and families of the police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan that took place on October 14. The government, he further said, had decided to enhance the compensation amount from Rs 75 lakhs as recommended by the Commission to Rs 1 crore each, whose report was legally examined by Advocate General Atul Nanda before being considered by the government. The compensation for the seriously injured S. Beant Singh has been raised from Rs 35 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.
Amarinder Singh said the decision to hand over to the case to CBI had been taken to ensure an impartial and objective investigation after registering a case under Section 307 IPC. Very senior officers could be involved so it was felt that the matter will be best investigated by the CBI, he added.
The role of all the police officers named by the Commission will be probed by the CBI and all the related documents will be handed over to the agency. It may be recalled that the CBI is already probing certain other cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, which were handed over to the central agency by the state government earlier. The Commission of Enquiry headed by Justice (Retd.) Ranjit Singh submitted its first (part-I) report on June 30. Though the full report is awaited, the Government has decided to accept the recommendations made by the Commission so far, said the CM.
The final report will be laid on the floor of the Punjab state assembly in its next session after the commission completes its proceedings. Responding to a query, Singh said a special session of the House will be called only after the government receives the full report since as no action can be taken on the basis of a partial report.
In the first part, the Commission has covered incidents of sacrilege of holy Guru Granth Sahib at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari, Gurusar and Mallke on and around June 6, 2015, September 25, 2015, October 1, 2015 and October 12, 2015 and police action involving firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan on October 14, 2015. The incidents and led to the death of two.
Amarinder Singh said that the government had agreed outrightly to the Commission's recommendations. A member of each of the victims’ families would be offered a job in the Government. Further, the compensation for Ajit Singh, who has been incapacitated for life, has been raised from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 60 lakh. He would also be provided with an attendant and all his medical expenses will be reimbursed. The injured would be given Rs.10 lakh each.
The government had decided on these measures as part of its efforts to instil a sense of justice in the general public, though it could not, unfortunately, bring back the people who had lost their lives, the CM added. He said the Commission, in its first report, has recommended appropriate action against the then SDM Kotkapura and those cops who, though not apparently guilty of any criminal act, were nevertheless seen to be responsible for police action.
A number of police officers have been found liable for failing to carry out proper and fair investigations of the sacrilege incidents and in the cases which were registered regarding the use of force at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan.
The Commission has recommended appropriate action in accordance with law against Inspector Pardip Singh, SI Arriarjit Singh, and SSP Bikramjit Singh suggesting them to be named as accused in FIR No. 130 Police Station Baja Khanna.
The role of gunman Charanjit Singh Sharma has also been cited in this context. The Commission has also recommended the role of Constable Shamsher Singh, Constable Harpreet Singh, Constable Gurpreet Singh and Constable Parminder Singh, as also of Inspector Harpal Singh SHO Ladowal, be thoroughly investigated as they were carrying assault rifles at Behbal Kalan.
The role of the Commando Police for use of indiscriminate lathi-charge, causing injuries to a number of people, has also been recommended to be investigated. The government had rejected the findings of the Zora Singh Commission set up by Akali Dal government, saying its findings had been "inconclusive."