Chandigarh: In a major embarrassment for the Punjab police, the man detained at the Bengaluru airport it said on Tuesday was Sandeep Bareta - one of the key conspirators in the 2015 sacrilege cases - turned out to be a case of mistaken identity on Wednesday with the state police having to eat its words to say that he was not the proclaimed offender (PO) Bareta, but one Sandeep Mannan, a resident of Delhi.
Cops catch the wrong Sandeep
The state police team which had gone to Bengaluru to bring him was left red-faced and had to return empty handed. While Bareta is a resident of Sirsa district (Haryana), on verification it turned out that detained person, Sandeep Mannan, hailed from Delhi, working in a tech company in Karnataka.
It may be recalled that the Punjab police had on Tuesday claimed (through its Twitter handle) that Bareta, a national committee member of Dera Sacha Sauda, one of the key conspirators behind the 2015 sacrilege cases, was caught while trying to flee to Singapore.
Detained person matched Bareta's description
On Wednesday, Faridkot range inspector general of police (IGP) P K Yadav clarified to newspersons that a communication from immigration authorities at Bengaluru airport was received about the detention of Sandeep, matching the description Sandeep Bareta, on the basis of the look-out circular (LOC) issued by Punjab police. However, on verification it was found out that the detained person was not the wanted accused Bareta but Sandeep Mannan.
Punjab sacrilege cases
For record, Bareta’s arrest was seen to be crucial in the sacrilege cases as it would have established an evidence and link against the Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, according to police. Bareta, according to information, was among three key conspirators in the five sacrilege cases of 2015.
Accused remain at large
According to the state police, the three members of the Dera’s national committee, who were suspected to be behind the sacrilege cases were Pardeep Kaler of Panipat (Haryana) and Harsh Dhuri of Dhuri in Sangrur district of Punjab, besides Bareta, a resident of village Bareta in Mansa district, Punjab. One of the sacrilege cases pertained to the theft of ``bir’’ (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib’’ in village Bargari, district Faridkot.
The sacrilege cases had triggered off state-wide protests in 2015. The issue had also been a major political plank for all the ruling and opposition parties in the elections, since.