Sandeep Bareta, one of the main conspirators in the 2015 sacrilege cases in Punjab, has been held at the Bengaluru airport, police said today.
Bareta, who was one of the accused in the incidents related to the desecration of a religious text in Faridkot in 2015, was declared a proclaimed offender. A lookout notice was also issued against him by the Punjab Police.
A Punjab Police team has been sent to bring Bareta to the state for questioning.
The incidents — the theft of a “bir” (copy) of the Guru Ganth Sahib, putting up handwritten sacrilegious posters and torn pages of the holy book found scattered at Bargari — took place in Faridkot in 2015.
The incidents had led to anti-sacrilege protests in Faridkot. In the police firing at the protesters in October 2015, two people were killed in Behbal Kalan while some people were injured at Kotkapura in Faridkot.
“Proclaimed Offender in #Bargari Sacrilege cases ‘Sandeep Bareta’ has been arrested at #Bangalore airport today in pursuance of lookout notice issued by Punjab Police,” the police wrote on Twitter.
“Police party sent for getting the accused for his production before learned court and seeking police remand for custodial interrogation,” it added.
An investigation report of the Punjab Police on the 2015 sacrilege cases had pinned the blame on the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda sect for the incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Additional Director General of Police SPS Parmar was probing the sacrilege incidents.
Among the other accused, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was also named in the three sacrilege incidents.
Along with Bareta, two other accused — Harsh Dhuri and Pardeep Kler — were declared proclaimed offenders.
The other accused in the three cases included Sukhjinder Singh alias Sunny, Shakti Singh, Baljit Singh, Randeep Singh alias Neela, Ranjit Singh alias Bhola and Nishan Singh.
Dera Sacha Sauda follower Mohinder Pal Bittu, who was a key accused in the sacrilege cases, was killed in the Nabha prison in Patiala by two inmates in 2019.
In 2015, the then SAD-BJP government handed over the three cases — the theft of a “bir” of the Guru Granth Sahib from a Burj Jawahar Singh Wala gurdwara, putting up handwritten sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, and torn pages of the holy book found at Bargari — to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Congress-led Punjab government, however, handed over the probe to an SIT of the state police in September 2018 after the Assembly passed a resolution, withdrawing consent to the CBI to investigate these cases, noting a lack of progress in the investigation.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)