A local court today ordered the release of five Dera Sacha Sauda followers, all accused in a sacrilege case, on bail. The accused — Randip Singh alias Neela, Ranjit Singh alias Bhola, Baljit Singh, Nishan Singh and Narinder Sharma — were arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab Police on July 4.
The accused had pleaded before the court that they were innocent and the SIT charge was “highly improbable as there was no evidence against them to connect with the crime”.
They pleaded that none of them was named in the FIR registered in June 2015. The case was handed over to the CBI, which, during its investigation, had arrested dera followers Shakti Singh, Sukhjinder Singh and Mohinder Pal Bittu in 2018. They were later granted bail by the Special CBI court on September 6, 2018. On July 4, 2019, the CBI submitted its final report in the court, declaring the case as untraced, they pleaded.
However, pending the CBI court decision on the final report submitted by the CBI, the Punjab Government ordered a parallel investigation by the SIT, they claimed, adding that in its hasty investigation, the SIT mainly relied upon the confessional statement of Bittu. The latter had purportedly given his statement in a case of 2011 in Moga district. He had levelled accusations against many persons for their involvement in the sacrilege acts at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari villages in 2015. Bittu was killed in a Nabha jail last year.
The public prosecutor, on behalf of the SIT, opposed the grant of bail to the accused. He said four more accused in this case were absconding. The court, however, observed that the judicial custody of the accused was not required. “Keeping them in jail is a burden on the public exchequer. Moreover, keeping in the mind prevailing situation due to Covid-19, it is not good to keep the accused behind bars for long as conclusion of the trial shall take sufficient time,” observed Suresh Kumar, Judicial Magistrate (First Class).