Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Badal on Tuesday appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) here for the first time in the 2015 Behbal Kalan police firing case.The SIT, investigating the firing case following sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, is led by Inspector General of Police Naunihal Singh.
Earlier, Badal, who was the Home Minister when the incident occurred, was summoned by the SIT on August 30 but didn't appear, saying he didn't receive the summons and on that day he had to appear in Ferozepur district's Zira court in connection with another case. He was questioned for over three hours.
The SIT is probing the two firing incidents - at Behbal Kalan and the Kotkapura. In the Kotkapura incident, the SIT has issued summons to Badal for September 14.Talking to the media, Badal blamed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for playing politics in sensitive cases of police firing at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura.
Asserting that SAD and its leaders were always ready to cooperate with the SITs probing the firing cases, he said it was unfortunate that the AAP government was only playing politics on these issues for petty political gains.
"Punjabis wanted all culprits in these cases to be caught and punished but the AAP government is following in the footsteps of the previous Congress government and politicising investigation into the cases.This is extremely unfortunate especially after the high court has already rapped former Inspector General Kunwar Vijay Pratap for misusing his official position to further his post-retirement political ambitions."
Answering media queries, Badal said "the government already knows the answers to the queries SIT has asked me. The answers are with them. Despite this they are indulging in this exercise to defame the SAD and its leaders".
Meanwhile, the SIT led by Additional Director General of Police L.K. Yadav earlier questioned former Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini in the sacrilege case.Saini was removed from the top police post by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in 2015 following incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and subsequent violence in the state in which the police force was accused of excesses that left two people dead.
Justice Ranjit Singh (retd), who headed the commission appointed by the previous Congress government into the alleged incidents of sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the subsequent police firing on protesters, has placed the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the SAD patriarch, and then DGP Saini in dock.
Also, he castigated the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, whose chief and self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence for raping two of his disciples and a life term for a journalist's killing, for the incident of sacrilege.
Justice Singh made these comments in January on the release of his 423-page book "The Sacrilege" based on his inquiry when he was heading the government set up commission.The incident of sacrilege took place in Behbal Kalan village of Faridkot district and the subsequent police firing on protesters that claimed two lives was raked up by the Congress against the SAD-BJP combine government in the 2017 Assembly polls.
Even in 2022 polls, the incidents continued to rock the state's political sphere as the successive governments are under fire for failing to deliver justice in the cases.The Punjab and Haryana High Court on April 9, 2021, quashed the previous police SIT report that gave a clean chit to the Badals and directed the state government to set up a new team.
The high court had not only quashed the probe but also raised doubts over the methods and ordered reconstitution of the SIT probing the case without IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who is now an AAP legislator.
Following the high court directive, the then Congress government led by Captain Amarinder Singh constituted another SIT on May 7 to probe the incident.