Punjab: Troubles Mount For Badals In Kotkapura Firing Case; SAD Alleges Political Vendetta
Former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal's anticipatory bail plea was declined by Faridkot's additional sessions judge on 16 March.
Meanwhile, former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was granted anticipatory bail in the Kotkapura incident.
The court ordered Sukhbir to surrender to the duty magistrate within 15 days of bail grant.
On 14 October 2015, shots were fired in the town of Kotkapura, following an incident of sacrilege two days prior in Bargari village, where pages of the revered Guru Granth Sahib were found on the streets.
The Badal family, who were the ruling political party of Punjab at the time, filed anticipatory bail applications in connection to the shooting incident.
This came after a series of other incidents that took place preceding the shooting, such as the theft of a Guru Granth Sahib from a gurdwara on 1 June, and the discovery of posters with derogatory comments about the holy book on walls of Bargari village on 24 and 25 September.
The events escalated tensions in Punjab and led to protests against the state government.
On 12 October, the third incident caused extensive demonstrations and subsequent oppressive police measures, which remain a politicised matter in the state. The police shot at protesters in Kotkapura, wounding about 60 individuals, including over 30 officers.
The SIT headed by ADGP L K Yadav filed a chargesheet on 24 February and 6 March which included all eight accused, including the Badals.
Notices have been issued to all of them to appear before Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Ajaypal Singh on 23 March.
In response to the denial of bail, Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD) chief spokesperson, Daljeet Singh Cheema, stated that the party is now exploring alternative legal options.
He further added that they will approach the High Court, given that both the SAD leadership and supporters believe that the inclusion of the former chief minister and deputy's names in the FIR is a result of political vendetta by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Cheema criticised both the previous Congress government and the current AAP government for prioritising the sacrilege case over development and public issues.
While justice is necessary, he firmly believed that blaming people for vengeance is unwarranted.
SAD leaders have accused the ruling party of using current events to damage their party and leaders.
Despite their party being named, the leaders are not worried as they believe the public is aware of the motive behind the allegations.
They see this as yet another inquiry being conducted against them and are ready to fight it out.
As per the Kotkapura chargesheet, SAD chief and former deputy chief minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Badal, along with then Punjab Police Chief Sumedh Singh Saini, have been accused of conspiring to use illegal force in order to cover up the state's inaction on three sacrilege incidents.
However, Sukhbir has contested these charges by claiming that he was not in the state when the incident took place and had not communicated with any police officials.
The chargesheet, with a whopping 7,000 pages, contains 17 parts that place the blame on then chief minister Parkash Badal as the catalyst for the conspiracy's execution.
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