Zora Singh panel report on sacrilege ends up as cover up

unnamedChandigarh, July 2: The investigation into the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib missing from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala since June 1, 2015 and subsequent sacrilege at Bargari that triggered chain of events in Punjab is the crime that continues to be untraced despite handing over investigations to the Central Bureau of Investigations after initial flip-flop by the Punjab police with Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal having to face embarrassment subsequently.

The state government marked judicial probe by Justice Zora Singh (retd) which has now submitted its report that reveals nothing and appears more to be a cover up job. The state government has not even identified the police officials involved in firing at people protesting at nearby Behbal Kalan village against the sacrilege in Bargari village.

Ironically, the Zora Singh panel has recommended enhanced compensation to the families of two victims who died in police firing and to the injured and that could have been done even at the government level. At the time of the tragedy, even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had visited the two families. Sukhbir was the last to share grief with the families after the situation has normalized and ground had been prepared to facilitate his visit. That was all. Nothing has moved further.

As usual, the commission too has uncovered nothing new. The commission was set up more to mollify agitated people rather than for any fruitful purpose.

What happened at Bargari was not an isolated incident and incidents of sacrilege continues to be reported and the latest case is that of Bhagta Bhai village. The SGPC at one stage talked of installing closed circuit cameras in gurdwaras but now all seems to have forgotten. The sacrilege of Quran at Malerkotla has added new dimension to  what seems to be some deep rooted conspiracy to create disturbance in the state.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has  promised action on the recommendation of the Commission but then there is nothing much in the report that otherwise is to be made public. Its contents have already appeared in the media.

Almost all investigations in Punjab, especially in the cases  which were handed over to the SIT, have led to nowhere, including that of the assassination of 80 year old Chand Kaur at Bhaini Sahib, the headquarter of the Namdhari sect. It was a broad day light murder of the widow of the sect chief Jagjit Singh. There are several other cases being probed by various SITs. At one level, this is indicative of the total collapse of the policing and investigation system that should be the main contribution of the Akali Dal-BJP government during its two  terms.

Sukhbir had launched night patrolling about a year back but nothing was heard of that later. Now a quick response system has been introduced. The police budget in the state is staggering but the output seems to be nil.  Of course, the political families cutting across party lines feel “secure” surrounded by security men. It seems the only responsibility of the police now is to make these VIPs that also include small time leaders like local jathedars and Shiv Sena leaders, feel secure.

It is the people who should feel secure. Sukhbir might take refuge in the comparative crime statistics but the basic issue is that of environs. It is the common people who face unnecessary harassment in police station level.

The senior police bureaucracy has become spineless in the face of political leadership and hence the deterioration in the police administration.

In Punjab’s political dynamics, the average life of an issue is about one month  but the cumulative effect can impact the elections. The incidents of sacrilege just can’t be wished away.

It is professionalism that has to be restored in the police and this would be the Herculean job for whichever party comes to power in the state in February 2017 elections. The problem is that the very people who used to be very ‘sensitive’ over cut in their security level are now part of the Aam Aadmi Party. It is the label that has changed. This is what raises question mark about the future of the state.

Leaders like former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal would not like to part with even the red beacon, what to talk of reduction in security.

It is entire political culture that would have to be changed to provide pro-people governance. Setting up commissions like the one headed by Justice Zora Singh are only convenient escape routes.


Jagtar Singh


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