Two lynchings in two days in Punjab: Here's all you need to know
The sacrilege cases have been at the heart of political conflicts in Punjab since 2015 with each party accusing the other of inaction and promising that if they were to be elected to power they would investigate the issues
Poll-bound Punjab is on the boil after two lynchings took place in two days following accusations of desecration, one at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple and the other at a village gurdwara in Kapurthala district. Political leaders across party lines have condemned the incidents although little has been said about the killings.
The incidents gain in significance not only because of the gravity of the actions and the proximity of their occurrence — two lynchings in two days — but also that the sacrilege cases, especially the 2015 Bargari case, have been at the centre stage of the unfolding political drama weeks ahead of Assembly elections. So here's what we know about the situation so far:
The Amritsar incident:
On Saturday, as the Golden Temple granthi (priest) Giani Baljit Singh was reciting evening hymns (Rehras path), a young man jumped over the railing surrounding the Guru Granth Sahid and trampled on a rumala (the decorative cloth on which the holy book is installed), and picked up a sword before he was overpowered by staff, police officials said.
According to Indian Express, the youth was first questioned in a room inside the Golden Temple premises, and then taken on a wheelchair to the SGPC headquarters. All this while, he was being beaten.
Later, DCP Parminder Singh Bhandal said: “The unidentified man was thrashed before he was brought to the SGPC headquarters. It is matter of investigation how he died.”
The Kapurthala incident
A second man was beaten to death in Punjab today over an alleged instance of sacrilege, stoking tension in a state that has barely recovered from the shock of a similar incident in Amritsar's Golden Temple less than 24 hours before.
A man was caught from a gurdwara of Nijampur village in Kapurthala district early morning. Residents of the village alleged that he was seen ‘disrespecting’ the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag) around 4 am.
Although the police team reached the spot and took the man into custody, Sikh groups insisted that he be questioned in front of them. The man was killed by the locals after a scuffle with the police.
Third incident in a week
Last week, a person identified as Ranbir Singh had thrown the Gutka Sahib (a small booklet with verses from the Gurbani) into the lake that surrounds the Golden Temple, leading to anger among the Sikh community.
- Burj Jawahar Singhwala
On 1 June 2015, the Guru Granth Sahib was stolen from a gurdwara in village Burj Jawahar Singhwala in Faridkot. An FIR was lodged but the Guru Granth Sahib was not found. This led to protests in the area. On 11 June, protesters marched to the village police station. The then Faridkot senior superintendent of police Charanjit Sharma placated the crowd saying a probe was on. But it did not yield any result.
- Bargari gurdwara
On 12 October 2015, over 100 pages torn out of a Guru Granth Sahib were found scattered in front of the Bargari gurdwara. Another FIR was lodged and the Sikh community became more impatient for the law to catch the culprits.
- Between 13 and 16 October 2015, several such incidents were reported
- 35 angs (pages) of the Guru Granth Sahib were found torn in Mishriwala village of Ferozepur district.
- 39 angs of the Gur Granth Sahib were found torn in Bath village in Tarn Taran district.
- In Kohrian village in Faridkot, an inch cut was found in 745 angs of the Guru Granth Sahib.
- In Sarai Naga village in Muktsar district, angs of a copy of the Panj Granth, a smaller text containing selected verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, were found torn.
- In Gadani in Nawanshahr, three saroops (physical copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib) were found burnt.
- In Kotli Ablu village in Muktsar, a gurdwara caught fire and its Bir of the Guru Granth Sahib were burnt to ashes
- In Kohrian village of Sangrur district, some Angs of Guru Granth Sahib were reported torn.
Cause of anger
While all parties from the Congress to the BJP have expressed their outrage after each of the incidents, little has been done to bring the culprits to book. Since 2015 over 100 such cases have been reported but the police have been able to identify the culprits in only 50 such cases. Consequently, the sacrilege cases have been at the heart of political conflicts in Punjab since the 2017 Assembly elections with each party accusing the other of apathy and inaction and promising that if they were to be elected to power they would investigate the issues.
With input from agencies
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