Witnesses in sacrilege cases face threat to life

Witnesses in sacrilege cases face threat to life

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12

In the wee hours of November 4, 2015, two persons on a two-wheeler rode past ex-serviceman Sewak Singh while he was on his way to his village gurdwara in Malke, Moga district. When he reached the shrine, he saw ‘ang (parts)’ of Guru Granth Sahib strewn outside.

Amid monetary allurements and threats to withdraw his statement against the two persons he saw that day, Sewak Singh’s life has been a nightmare. He is not the only witness to be living in fear. Iqbal Singh of Guru Sar Jalal village in Bathinda has faced threats ever since a sacrilege incident was reported in his village gurdwara. “The state has abandoned us. We are left to fend for ourselves,” he told The Tribune over the phone.

Surjit Singh, a witness in the Behbal Kalan police firing incident, who died recently, too had faced harassment at the hands of the accused, provoking Justice Ranjit Singh (retd), who headed a commission to probe sacrilege incidents and the police firing at Behbal Kalan, to write to the Punjab Chief Minister. He wrote that the state, especially the police, had been insensitive to the plight of the witness.

“We will not bend despite the threats and allurement of money,” said Sewak Singh and Iqbal Singh. “But the state is duty-bound to protect all witnesses. My request for police security was turned down,” said Sewak Singh.

Advocate Gagan Pardeep Singh Bal said he had approached the High Court for providing protection to the witnesses.

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