The Punjab government on Sunday decided to hand over to the CBI investigation of three cases of sacrilege involving the Guru Granth Sahib.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal gave the nod to transfer the cases, which were being investigated by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Punjab Police, to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The move follows the controversy around the police investigation into the cases which has led to a deadlock with hardliner Sikh activists and organisations who have rejected the police probe.
Police have made seven arrests in the sacrilege cases, including that of two brothers from Moga district.
Radical Sikh leaders have disputed the probe, saying the brothers were framed.
Harcharan Singh Bains, the chief minister’s advisor on national affairs and media, said: “The chief minister, who is deeply anguished over the incidents of sacrilege, took the decision to have these cases investigated by the highest investigative agency in the country and accordingly gave his nod in this regard this (Sunday) evening.”
“The chief minister is deeply hurt over these incidents and wants justice to be both done and to be seen to have been done in these cases,” Bains said.
He said Badal took note of the demands made by several religious organisations, as well as members of the family of the accused, and decided to “fully respect the sentiments of everyone in this regard”, said the advisor.
“The issue involves three cases in police station Baja Khana in Faridkot district, involving theft of the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib, putting up of objectionable posters and sacrilege of the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib (tearing of the holy parts (Angs) of the holy scripture). Three FIRs have been registered in these cases,” Bains said.
“The Punjab government is fully alive to the deep emotional hurt caused by these incidents of sacrilege against the holy scripture and has consistently shown full respect to the sentiments and opinion of the Sikh masses in this regard,” he said.
The state government has been drawing flak from the Sikh community and radical Sikh leaders over the handling of the sacrilege issue.
The government was last week forced to remove Director General of Police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini from his post and appoint Suresh Arora as the new police chief.
Two people were killed in police firing in Behbal Kalan village in Moga district last month and scores of others were injured in violence across Punjab as protests erupted over the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib.