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Dera chief directed to join probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Justice L.N. Mittal today directed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to join the Punjab police investigation on August 17 at his dera near Sirsa. Importantly, the interim relief granted to him will continue till September 19, the next date of hearing.

“The petitioner (dera head) is directed to join investigation on August 17 at 10 am in his dera, near Nejia Khera village, in Sirsa district. He shall cooperate with the investigating officer (IO) and not cause any hindrance in the performance of the IO’s duty,” the judge pronounced in the open court.

No time limit was imposed on the interrogation, with the judge saying that the IO was free to question till midnight if he had the stamina to do that.

The judge also pronounced that only the securitymen provided to the dera chief by the government should search the police team, if deemed appropriate and that too on showing their identity cards. No private dera man should frisk the investigating officer and his team.

“The petitioner shall also join investigation after August 17, if required,” the judge pronounced.

The proceedings began on an aggressive note with state counsel N.K. Sanghi accusing the dera chief of not cooperating with the investigation. He also averred that the investigating officer and his team was subjected to derogatory treatment by dera men.

The state counsel informed the court that the IO had gone to the dera on a request of the counsel for the petitioner and after informing the local authorities.The team found that many accused wanted in other cases were also present in the dera.

Another significant submission by the state counsel was that the passport delivered to the state officers contained the partial name of the petitioner only and its veracity was yet to be ascertained.

To this submission, Garg informed the court that the passport was authentic and the petitioner had only one passport. The court put the statement of Garg on record.

Justice Mittal seemed to concur with the state counsel’s view that the IO and his team deserved better treatment though the petitioner’s counsel S.K.Garg denied any bad treatment. Garg even wanted to produce a video of the interrogation to buttress his point.

In fact, Garg got agitated at times, prodding the judge to ask him to lower his tone and tempo and carry on the arguments smoothly.

Countering Sanghi’s submission that the IO and his team had been frisked by private dera men, Garg said the frisking had been done by the Z-plus securitymen provided to the dera chief.

Garg pleaded before the court that two counsel may be appointed to accompany the IO and his team to the dera. The plea was opposed by the state counsel and was not entertained by the court too.

Importantly, the state counsel also prayed that the dera chief be asked to come to Chandigarh for interrogation which was countered by Garg who expressed apprehension that it might lead to a law and order problem.

The court proceedings are being conducted in the wake of a bail plea filed by the dera chief following a case registered against him by the Bathinda police on May 20 for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs by imitating Guru Gobind Singh.

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