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Posted at: Jun 9, 2018, 2:17 PM; last updated: Jun 9, 2018, 6:20 PM (IST)

SIT arrests 4 men suspected of sacrilege incidents in Faridkot

SIT arrests 4 men suspected of sacrilege incidents in Faridkot
Besides Bittu, the SIT also nabbed three more men from Kotkapura on Friday evening.

Balwant Garg

Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 9

A special investigation team (SIT) of Punjab Police, probing the three-year-old sacrilege incidents at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari villages of Faridkot, has rounded up four Dera Sacha Sauda followers, suspecting them to be the prime accused in the sacrilege incidents.

The SIT has nabbed Mohinder Pal Bittu, the state committee member of the Dera from Palampur in Himachal. Belonging to Kotkapura town of Faridkot and owner of a bakery shop, Bittu had been absconding since August 2017 following the conviction of Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim.

He was one of the around 150 Dera followers booked by the Panchkula police for violence following the Dera head’s   conviction.

To evade his arrest, Bittu had allegedly been living in Palampur for the past nine months. Sources said the police took the help of a Dera follower and a close associate of Bittu’s in nabbing him.

While Ranbir Singh Khatra, DIG and head of SIT, declined to share information about the arrest, Bittu's younger brother Surinder Kumar alleged that his family had gone to Palampur to meet Bittu, who was found missing. “On June 7, we lodged a missing person complaint with the Palampur police,” said Surinder.

“My brother is being made a scapegoat to pacify the protesters at Bargari,” he alleged.

The SIT also nabbed three more men from Kotkapura on Friday evening. They are Sunny Kanda, a dairy owner, his brother Sukhpreet Singh and Jaggi, their relative from Mansa.

After taking Kanda and two others in custody, the SIT, deployed at Kanda’s house on Muktsar road in Kotkapura, did not allow any visitors to the family.

SSP Nanak Singh said the SIT is handling the case so the Faridkot police had no information about the arrests.

Sources said since the start of an indefinite protest dharna by Sikh radical leaders at Bargari last week--demanding the arrest of the accused of sacrilege incidents and the police officials responsible for the killing of two Sikh protesters at Behbal Kalan in October 2015, the state government is under immense pressure. Three days back, a seven-member committee of these protesters, led by Baljit Singh Daduwal, reached Chandigarh to meet the Chief Minister and the protesters were assured that their demands would be looked into.

In June 2016, after an unidentified man had opened fire at Gurdev Singh, a Dera follower, at his grocery shop at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village of Faridkot there was a massive protest by the Dera followers. Bittu had reportedly led that agitation, demanding the arrest of culprits.

Kotkapura and its two nearby villages, Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari, have been the epicentre of controversy for the past three years. On June 1, 2015, a ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib was stolen from the gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala. On October 12, 2015, the torn pages of this ‘bir’ were found scattered in front of a gurdwara in the adjoining village, Bargari. Later, there were massive protests over the killing of two Sikh protesters at Behbal Kalan, followed by the killing of a Dera follower at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on June 16, 2016.


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