Karam Prakash & Balwant Garg
Tribune News Service
Patiala/Faridkot, June 23
Dera Sacha Sauda said it would not allow sect follower Mohinder Pal Bittu to be cremated until all sacrilege cases against the sect's followers were dropped.
The sect’s 45-member executive committee also said it wanted the “real culprits” behind Bittu’s killing on Saturday to be put behind bars. The committee claims the murder wasn’t as sudden as police claim it was, but a carefully planned act that likely had some “big people” behind it.
“Until the name of these bigwigs is not disclosed, there would be no cremation of Bittu,” the Dera said.
The development comes as followers of the sect gathered at Kotkapura, where Bittu’s body was put in a coffin.
Police claim Bittu, who was booked in sacrilege cases of 2015 and was arrested last year, was killed by two inmates at the Nabha jail. The inmates, Maninder Singh and Gursewak Singh, both serving life terms for murder, attacked him with iron rods, killing him almost instantly.
Police said that the attack was a result of a heated argument between Bittu and the two inmates.
Jail Superintendent Balkar Singh Bhullar said, “The incident took place following an altercation between Bittu and the accused in the evening. The motive is yet to be ascertained.”
The attack has prompted police to bolster security around Punjab for the fear of violence.
“After conducting post-mortem, Bittu’s body reached his hometown Kotkapura where he will be cremated later in the day,” a senior police official said.
He said as per the wishes of the family, the body was kept in Naam Charcha Ghar of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, where a large number of followers started gathering. Kotkapura has a huge sect following.
Bittu is survived by two sons and a daughter. Belonging to Kotkapura town of Faridkot, Bittu, state panel member of the dera, was nabbed by the special investigation team (SIT) of Faridkot police from Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) last year.
Owner of a bakery shop, Bittu had been absconding since August 2017 following the conviction of dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. He was one of the around 150 dera followers booked by the Panchkula police for violence that broke out after the dera head’s conviction.
He had been lodged in the high-security Nabha jail for the past 11 months.
In June 2018, the Kotkapura police had booked Bittu for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs, carrying an illegal weapon and being involved in unlawful activities.
A case under Section 295-A of the IPC, Sections 13(1) and 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act was registered against him.
He was accused in many sacrilege incidents, including the one that took place at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari.
According to the police, a Sikh scripture was recovered from his house lying in a disrespectful condition in scrap last year. The police also seized a piece of paper on which Bittu and his associates had scribbled about a plan to disrupt railway traffic.
Twenty-five empty cartridges of a .32 bore gun were also seized from his house.
In April, the District and Sessions Judge, Faridkot, dismissed the bail plea of Bittu, who had claimed he was falsely implicated in the case. The public prosecutor had claimed that Bittu was involved in not one, but many cases of sacrilege. Bittu was also involved in damaging public property in Moga in 2011, he added.
During an investigation into Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing incidents, the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission had also identified Bittu as one of the main conspirators who planned sacrilege.
CAPT orders inquiry. 2 staffers suspended
- Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh has ordered an inquiry into the fatal assault, warning of stringent punishment for the assailants
- ADGP (Prisons) Rohit Chaudhary will head the fact-finding committee that has been asked to submit its report in three days
- Two jail officials have been suspended, three shifted
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