Saturday, December 07, 2019

Posted at: Jun 24, 2019, 6:48 AM; last updated: Jun 24, 2019, 10:44 AM (IST)

Cremation after sacrilege cases are dropped: Premis

Tension as hundreds gather at Kotkapura dera centre

Balwant Garg

Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, June 23

Tension prevails in Faridkot’s Kotkapura town with family members of Mohinder Pal Bittu, a Dera Sacha Sauda follower who was killed inside the Nabha jail, refusing to cremate the body till all sacrilege cases against the sect followers (also called Premis) were dropped and the “real culprits” behind Bittu’s killing put behind bars.

Bittu was shifted to Nabha jail after his arrest in Himachal Pradesh last year. He was assaulted inside the jail on Saturday, following which prisoners Maninder Singh and Gursewak Singh were booked for murder.

Also read: Bittu killed days ahead of hearing, officials in dock

Also read: Premis, hardliners up stakes, cops alert

Bittu’s family alleged that “the conspiracy” to eliminate Bittu was hatched by some “big persons”. Along with a 45-member executive committee of Dera Sacha Sauda, they demanded a judicial probe. “Until our two demands are met, the body will not be cremated,” said one of the committee members, Harcharan Singh.

The body, brought to the Kotkapura Naam Charcha Ghar (prayer centre) this morning, was placed in a coffin. With hundreds of Premis from various parts of the state gathered there, the police were deployed in strength at the town’s entry and exit routes and in the vicinity of the Naam Charcha Ghar.

Senior officers held a meeting with leaders of political parties, religious groups and social organisations in the evening, seeking their cooperation in maintaining peace. Anticipating a stream of mourners from neighbouring states as well, the district administration may impose curfew, said sources.

Bittu was named the prime accused by the SIT in three sacrilege incidents that took place in Faridkot in June-October 2015. Three cases were registered against unknown persons with the Bajakhana police station under Section 295-A of the IPC (deliberate  acts intended to outrage religious feelings). The first one was registered after the theft of a ‘bir’ in Burj Jawahar Singh Wala  gurdwara on June 1 that year, the second on September 25, after handwritten posters were pasted near a gurdwara in Bargari and the third for  allegedly tearing pages of Guru Granth Sahib that were found strewn in a street opposite the Bargari gurdwara on October 12. 

The SIT named Bittu as the main accused in all three in June 2018. He was also booked in three more cases for violent protests at Panchkula and Moga. 

Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said a magisterial probe has been marked. “The Bargari accused were kept in a separate cell. Despite the precaution, Bittu was attacked.” He said it was yet to be ascertained why Bittu had come out of his cell and the provocation for the attack. Bittu’s son Parminder said, “My father was killed under a conspiracy.” 

I did it, claims gangster

Gangster Sukhpreet Budda, in a Facebook post, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the two inmates who assaulted Bittu were members of his group. A senior police official in Moga said the cyber cell had been asked to look into the claim. — PTI


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