Ahead of LS polls, Kaler’s arrest shifts focus back on sacrilege cases - Hindustan Times
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Ahead of LS polls, Kaler’s arrest shifts focus back on sacrilege cases

By, Faridkot
Feb 12, 2024 08:08 AM IST

Pardeep Kaler was arrested by a team of the crime investigation agency (CIA) of Faridkot police from Gurugram, Haryana, on Friday and is presently in the custody of Faridkot police till Monday.Kaler was purportedly seen during the consecration ceremony of Ram Temple in the pictures that went viral on social media.

With the arrest of one of the three absconding Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda national committee members, who cops claim was one of the key conspirators in five sacrilege cases of 2015, the politically sensitive cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib are back in the spotlight just ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

With the arrest of one of the three absconding Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda national committee members, who cops claim was one of the key conspirators in five sacrilege cases of 2015, the politically sensitive cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib are back in the spotlight just ahead of Lok Sabha polls. (HT File Photo)
With the arrest of one of the three absconding Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda national committee members, who cops claim was one of the key conspirators in five sacrilege cases of 2015, the politically sensitive cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib are back in the spotlight just ahead of Lok Sabha polls. (HT File Photo)

Pardeep Kaler was arrested by a team of the crime investigation agency (CIA) of Faridkot police from Gurugram, Haryana, on Friday and is presently in the custody of Faridkot police till Monday.

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Kaler was purportedly seen during the consecration ceremony of Ram Temple in the pictures that went viral on social media.

SIT prepares to take custody of Kaler

Meanwhile, ADGP Surinder Pal Singh Parmar, who heads the Punjab police SIT probing the three interlinked Bargari sacrilege cases, along with his team reached Faridkot to take custody of Kaler.

As per sources, the SIT has initiated the process to take Kaler in custody whose remand will end on Monday. “The custodial interrogation of Kaler will help in joining all the missing links as he was directly in contact with the dera head,” said a police official who did not wish to be named.

The sacrilege incidents started on June 1, 2015, when the ‘bir’ was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village gurdwara. An FIR was registered the next day at Bajakhana police station. On September 24 and 25, three derogatory posters threatening sacrilege were pasted at Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala villages following which another FIR was registered. On October 12, 2015, torn pages of the ‘bir’ were found scattered in front of a gurdwara in the adjoining Bargari village, resulting in an outrage across the state. Two Sikh protesters were killed in police firing at Kotkapur and Behbal Kalan.

In the final report, the SIT named and presented chargesheets against 12 dera men along with Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim as accused in three interlinked sacrilege cases. The SIT has named the dera chief as the main conspirator.

The sacrilege incidents dominated the subsequent assembly and Parliamentary polls with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) facing flak for its handling of sacrilege incidents.

The SIT report said that all three cases were inter-connected and the crime was committed under a well-planned conspiracy by Ram Rahim.

SIT report blames dera head

The SIT claimed that it was the dera head who ordered his aides to carry out sacrileges to avenge the insult of sect followers by a Sikh preacher. “Some dera followers arrested in connection with the sacrilege cases revealed that Mohinderpal Singh Bittu, who was killed in a Nabha jail in 2019, told them that the sacrilege was executed at the behest of the dera chief. During a diwan (religious congregation) on March 22, 2015, Harjinder Singh Manjhi, a Sikh preacher, asked some dera followers to remove their lockets or leave. Bittu raised the issue with dera’s national committee members Sandeep Bareta, Pardeep Kler and Harsh Dhuri, who saw it as an act of sacrilege and decided to take revenge. The sacrilege conspiracy was hatched thereafter,” the report said.

According to the SIT probe, Bareta, Kaler and Dhuri gave instructions to carry out sacrilege at Bargari, Moga and Gurusar to the district dera committee members. “In the Bargari sacrilege cases, the instructions to steal a ‘bir’ and then commit sacrilege came via these three. The trio had met dera follower Mohinder Pal Bittu and instructed him for the theft and sacrilege,” the SIT probe said.

In February last year, the Supreme Court transferred the trial from a court in Faridkot to Chandigarh after some of the dera followers reached the apex court citing a threat to their lives and asking for the trials to be shifted outside Punjab. The next date of hearing is February 15.

Govt yet to give nod to prosecute dera head

The state government is yet to give sanction to prosecute Ram Rahim in the Bargari sacrilege. The proposal in this regard has been pending with the home department since 2022.

Case timeline

June 2, 2015: Police register a case pertaining to theft of ‘bir’ from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village

Sept 25, 2015: Second FIR registered after posters appear at Bargari village

Oct 12, 2015: Third case filed after torn pages of the ‘bir’ found in Bargari

Nov 2, 2015: The then SAD-BJP government hands over probe to the CBI

July 4, 2019: CBI files closure report claiming no proof against Dera followers

Sept 6, 2019: Punjab govt withdraws its consent to the CBI to probe the case

July 4, 2020: SIT arrests seven dera followers for 2015 ‘bir’ theft.

July 6, 2020: SIT names seven persons including dera chief and 3 national committee members

May 16, 2021: Six dera followers arrested for Bargari sacrilege.

January 27, 2022: SIT names dera chief as main conspirator

April 21, 2022: Final report filed by SIT in Bargari sacrilege cases

Nov 10, 2022: Accused Dera follower shot dead

December 4, 2022: Other accused dera followers move SC seeking transfer of trial out of Punjab

Feb 28, 2023: SC transfers cases to Chandigarh

Feb 9: Faridkot police arrest Pardeep Kaler

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Parteek Singh Mahal is a multimedia correspondent based at Faridkot in Punjab. He covers medical education, politics and Punjab police.

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