Inhuman incidents of lynching following alleged sacrilege incidents put Punjab on boil ahead of assembly polls

Two inhuman incidents of lynching following allegations of sacrilege at sanctum sanctorum in Amritsar and at a gurdwara in Kapurthala district have put Punjab on boil ahead of state Assembly elections

Inhuman incidents of lynching following alleged sacrilege incidents put Punjab on boil ahead of assembly polls

Bipin Bhardwaj

Two inhuman incidents of lynching following allegations of sacrilege at sanctum sanctorum of the holy Sikh shrine (Golden Temple) in Amritsar and at a village gurdwara in Kapurthala district have put Punjab on boil ahead of state Assembly elections.

Leaders of different political parties, who have been alluring the voters, have condemned the alleged sacrilege attempts and demanded inquiries to unearth the conspiracy hatched to disturb the peace and harmony of the state.

Though the Punjab government has ordered a probe in both the incidents yet, nothing much has been said about the killings, victims, their identities, whereabouts, and motive.

Almost six years ago, a couple of alleged sacrilege incidents including Bargari and Behbal Kalan occurred in the SAD-BJP coalition government and led to the downfall of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Similar incidents of alleged sacrilege have once again become the focus of politics in Punjab.

Since religion and farmers are two main issues being highlighted in the politics in the state, the political parties including the SAD, AAP, BJP and other political outfits are likely to try and ‘harvest’ the incidents of alleged sacrilege and the farmers’ issues for their electoral benefits.

In a shocking incident an unidentified youth, who allegedly attempted sacrilege at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Saturday evening, was beaten to death by Sewadars.

The man wearing a saffron cloth on his head, reportedly entered the sanctum sanctorum by jumping over a railing and picked up a ‘kirpan’ (sword) near Rumala Sahib. Within no time, the vigilant Sewadars (SGPC employees) pounced upon him, whisking away the suspect giving a sound beating.

The incident was recorded by a private satellite TV channel and a video clip went viral on social media following which members of various Sikh organisations, including Nihangs, rushed to the holy shrine.

Ironically his body was found adjacent to the SGPC office within the temple premises.

On Sunday morning, Punjab Home Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa visited Amritsar and held a meeting with senior police and civil administration including Deputy Commissioner and President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) on the issue.

Randhawa claimed to have directed the SGPC officer bearers to tighten security and constitute a task force at its own level to avoid such incidents in future.

He also claimed that the youth entered the Golden Temple at about 11.40 am on Saturday and tried to commit the crime after staying inside the shrine for over 8-9 hours.

Meanwhile, the police have started investigations after registering a case under Sections 295A and 307 of the IPC against the unidentified person. The police have started investigations on the CCTV footage. Preliminary investigations revealed that the youth was a non-Punjabi, the Amritsar police chief said.

A day after the Amritsar incident, another man was beaten to death in Nizampur village Gurdwara in Kapurthala district. The man was caught from the gurdwara in wee hours for allegedly ‘disrespecting’ the ‘Nishan Sahib’. The gurdwara men caught hold of him and detained him in a storeroom. The devotees and Sewadars later allegedly assaulted him to death in presence of the police.

Kapurthala SSP Harkamalpreet Singh Khak claimed that around 200 people were present at the site before the police reached. A case under Section 295 A of the IPC has been registered against in this case, he added. The Punjab Government on Sunday set up a special investigation team (SIT) that will file a report within two days.

The Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has strongly condemned the incidents of sacrilege at Golden Temple Amritsar and Kapurthala and said that the Punjab government would ensure that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes will not only be identified but will also face the law of land.

Channi said that no one would be allowed to disturb the hard-earned peace and communal harmony of the state. He cautioned the Punjabis that as the Punjab government was already vigilant for checking such incidents from taking place, the people should also be more vigilant for the maintenance of religious places.

Following the incidents, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has beefed up security in and around the Golden Temple.

Shiromani Akali Dal patron and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal described the heinous attempt to commit sacrilege at Sachkhand Shri Harmandar Sahib as deeply shocking and exceedingly painful. Suspecting a “deep-rooted conspiracy”, Badal senior said that the crime was too “reprehensible for words and it has caused deep anguish and outrage in the minds of the Sikh masses all over the world”. “The whole conspiracy needs to be probed, exposed and those behind it be given exemplary punishment,” Badal demanded.

On the incident, former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted : "Strongly condemn the horrific incident of attempted sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji at Darbar Sahib. Govt. must get to the bottom of What led this man to act in such a despicable manner!"

“The attempt to commit sacrilege at Sachkhand Sri Harmandar Sahib is shocking. Making the holiest of our shrine the target of such outrage is beyond belief. The heinous act is a part of a deep-rooted conspiracy that has shaken the entire Sikh quom” tweeted Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal.

AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal also feared a well-planned conspiracy behind the incident. Kejriwal also demanded an investigation to dig for the truth.

“The alleged sacrilege attempt at Darbar Sahib is condemnable and this must be probed”, said Punjab BJP President Ashwani Sharma.

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