Chandigarh/Faridkot, May 23
Almost eight years after the 2015 Bargari sacrilege incidents in Faridkot, one of the main conspirators, Sandeep Bareta, was arrested from the Bengaluru airport today.
Bareta was a member of the national executive committee of the Dera Sacha Sauda headed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim. He had been absconding for the past eight years along with two other dera members Pardeep Kaler and Harsh Dhuri. All three were declared proclaimed offenders in the Burj Jawahar Ke and Bargari sacrilege cases in 2020.
Wanted in three cases
- The first case pertains to the theft of ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ from a gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village on June 1, 2015
- The second case is related to pasting of two posters featuring derogatory remarks against the Sikh religion and Gurus at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25, 2015
- The third incident dates to October 12, 2015, when torn pages of ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ were found outside a gurdwara at Bargari village
Their arrest assumes significance as he was linked to the dera authorities and might have inside information on the incidents.
The arrest before the eighth anniversary of the incidents may cool tempers of a number of organisations, which have been staging protests seeking their arrest. A Punjab Police team have taken his custody from the Bengaluru police. The team is bringing him to Punjab.
Dera head named in SIT report
- An SIT led by IG SPS Parmar had, in its 467-page report, blamed Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim and the three POs for hatching the conspiracy to carry out the sacrilege incidents
- Recently, the dera head had courted controversy after he got two back-to-back paroles and was released from Sunaria jail in Rohtak
ADGP Surinderpal Singh, who heads the Special Investigation Team, probing the three sacrilege incidents, said, “A team of the Faridkot police has left for Bengaluru. Bareta will be produced before a court in Faridkot.”
The Punjab Police had issued a Look-Out Circular against Bareta to stop him from leaving the country through designated land, air and sea ports.
Members of the national committee had allegedly directed the block committee to execute sacrilegious acts after some dera followers at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village removed their “sacred” threads and lockets reportedly under the influence of a Sikh preacher.
In April 2020, seven persons were arrested by the SIT and one of the accused Mohinder Pal Bittu was killed at Nabha jail in June 2019.
While the dera head is lodged at Sunaria jail in Rohtak after his conviction in a rape case, Bareta, Kaler and Dhuri had been on the run.
According to the SIT, the accused along with the dera head were behind the theft of ‘bir’, which led to Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing incidents.
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