Friday, July 01, 2016

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Zora report has little to say, no one to receive itJustice Zora Singh (retd) waits with the report. Tribune photo

Zora report has little to say, no one to receive it

Punjab-appointed panel probing desecration indicts none01 Jul 2016 | 1:55 AM

CHANDIGARH:The seriousness attached by the Punjab Government to the one-man Justice Zora Singh Commission of Inquiry — constituted to inquire into the cases of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib last year — could be gauged from the treatment meted out to the author of the report at the Civil Secretariat today evening.

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Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30

The seriousness attached by the Punjab Government to the one-man Justice Zora Singh Commission of Inquiry — constituted to inquire into the cases of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib last year — could be gauged from the treatment meted out to the author of the report at the Civil Secretariat today evening.

First, the offices were closed and there was no one to receive the report at the allotted time. Then, junior-level officials were sent after an endless wait and repeated calls, upsetting the judge. 

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Not that the report had much to offer. It does not draw any inference of a larger political controversy behind the theft and desecration of the holy book. 

The commission, over the past seven months, probed the three incidents of desecration in Faridkot district last year and the incidents at Bargari and Kotkapura, where police action was taken against protesters.

The 51-page report has merely recorded the statements of 206 witnesses, including police and executive officers. No officer has been indicted for the police action on protesters or inaction to trace the missing holy book from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala. It has, however, given certain recommendations regarding compensation to be paid.

Talking to The Tribune, Justice Zora Singh said he had held three public hearings — in Faridkot and Moga in December, February and then on March 31-April 1.

“We (the commission) met eyewitnesses and other people associated with the three incidents. The two brothers who were arrested and later released — Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh — were also examined. Several key religious leaders like Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib; Bhai Panthpreet Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale; family members of Krishan Bhagwan Singh of Niamiwala village and Gurjeet Singh of Sarawan, who were killed in police firing at Behbal Kalan; other leaders like Gurdeep Singh were called and their statements and affidavits were taken by the Commission. There were others like Daler Singh Kheri Wale who were issued several summons but refused to appear before the commission,” he said. 

For several witnesses who could not come for public hearings, he added, the Commission went to their houses to examine them and record their statements.

Justice Zora Singh told The Tribune that all aspects of the desecration incidents had been looked into in the probe. “However, because our findings can interfere with the police and CBI investigation into the incidents, I do not want to discuss if there is a political conspiracy,” he said, adding that all police and executive officers had cooperated with them.

No one to receive report 

Unable to get time from Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, retired Justice Zora Singh, along with his registrar and three staff members, reached the Civil Secretariat at 6.25 pm on Thursday only to find all offices locked. 

They claimed that the Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Secretary, DMS Bedi, had asked them to submit the report at 6.30 pm. However, the office was locked. Repeated phone calls and messages to the officers went answered. 

Finally, after 20 minutes in the sweltering heat, a clerk from the Control Room walked in rather apologetically and asked the retired judge to hand him the report. A visibly upset Zora Singh asked the clerk to call his seniors.

A senior assistant from the Protocol Department then came up and the retired Judge again refused. Special Secretary, Protocol, Rajeev Prashar, was finally sent there and he pacified the judge

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