Chandigarh, October 1- Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has accused SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar of obstructing the course of justice by refusing to appear before the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission probing sacrilege cases in the state.

            Instead of cooperating with the Commission in the interest of the state’s peace and communal harmony, Badungar was refusing to join the investigation, exposing some nefarious interest in covering up the sacrilege incidents, said the Chief Minister, in a statement issued here.

            The decision to set up an independent Commission to investigate various sacrilege incidents, including the Bargari incident in Faridkot district, was aimed at ensuring that those found responsible for trying to destroy the communal fabric of the state were brought to book, said the Chief Minister. The SGPC should have welcomed the move instead of adopting a negative approach on it, Captain Amarinder said, lashing out at the religious institution for issuing misleading statements at the behest of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which seemed to be striving hard to derail the inquiry, probably out of fear of exposure.

            While he was not in favour of government interference in the Commission’s proceedings, he was committed to maintaining peace in the state at all costs, the Chief Minister asserted.

            The Chief Minister said as the religious body responsible for the protection of Sikh rights and welfare, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) should have raised its voice against the various sacrilege incidents. In fact, with several of these incidents reported from Gurdwaras, which were under its control and management, SGPC should have taken on the task of probing the cases, he added.

            By choosing to keep quiet all this time, and by refusing to cooperate now with the Commission, the SGPC had shown it had no interest in protecting the state’s religious harmony and amity, the Chief Minister said, adding that this amounted to scuttling the course of justice and denying the people of the state the right to know who was responsible for perpetrating such outrageous crimes.

            The one-man Justice Ranjit Singh Commission was formed by the Captain Amarinder Singh led government in April to inquire into certain incidents of sacrilege reported from Punjab. The government had decided to set up a fresh Commission after rejecting as `inconclusive’ the report of the Zora Commission set up by the erstwhile Badal government.

            The Congress government, led by Captain Amarinder, had taken serious note of the spate of incidents of sacrilege, including the Bargari incident and the firing incident at Behbal Kalan, which took place between June 2015 and March 2017. There were a total of 121 incidents of desecrations of the holy texts and religious places, including 30 incidents of desecrations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, 8 defilement incidents in Gurudwaras, 56 desecrations of the Gutka Sahib, 22 incidents of sacrilege relating to Bhagwad Gita and 5 of the Quran.

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