Sacrilege and lynching: Tempers running high in a tension-filled Punjab headed for elections


Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, along with Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa visit the Golden Temple, in Amritsar (ANI Photo)

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has demanded public execution for those accused of desecrating religious texts; Amarinder Singh condemns mob violence  

Our Bureau

A man was beaten to death in an altercation by angry devotees after he allegedly attempted to commit sacrilege at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on December 18.

A video of people beating up the man who allegedly attempted sacrilege with the Nishan Sahib has gone viral on the Internet. He was later handed over to the police but some people reportedly insisted that the man be questioned in front of them and the man was allegedly beaten to death in an ensuing scuffle.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed by the state government to probe the Golden Temple incident.

A day after a man was lynched in Amritsar for attempted sacrilege at Amritsar’s Golden Temple, an unidentified man was allegedly beaten to death by locals at Nizampur in Punjab’s Kapurthala district on Sunday for allegedly disrespecting the ‘Nishan Sahib’ at the village Gurudwara.

Inspector-General, Jalandhar Range, GS Dhillon has said that as per investigations there was no visible sign of sacrilege and police is investigating the allegations.
“Information about the attack on police, and man killed being verified. If it appears to be murder then FIR to be registered accordingly,” the IG said.

“As it was a sensitive issue, police used restraint. Those people who managed to do this were more in number than the police. People’s emotional sentiments were high after the incident at Golden Temple,” the Inspector-General added.

Meanwhile, reacting to the alleged sacrilege attempt at Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has demanded public execution for those accused of desecrating religious texts. Addressing a rally in Malerkotla on Sunday, Sidhu alleged that a conspiracy is being hatched to disrupt peace in Punjab ahead of Assembly polls, scheduled to be held early next year. “Conspiracy going on to disrupt Punjab’s peace. Wherever sacrilege takes place, be it of Quran Sharif or Bhagavad Gita or Guru Granth Sahib, they (guilty) should be hanged in public and given biggest Constitutional punishment,” Sidhu said.

But Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday said that the incident of alleged sacrilege attempt at Golden Temple in Amritsar should not be politicized and demanded culprits to be caught.

Speaking in the press conference here in Fazilka, Punjab, Sukhbir Badal said, “We do not want to do politics, we want culprits to be caught. Since no culprit was caught in the last 5 years, they were emboldened. It’s sad they have formed inquiry committee of the Deputy Chief Minister. A judge should have been on the committee. This shows that they do not want to catch culprits.”

People from the Sikh community hold placards during a protest over a youth who was beaten to death yesterday at the Golden Temple in Amritsar after being accused of a sacrilege attempt, in Srinagar (ANI Photo)

Badal further slammed the Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and said, “I would like to tell Punjab Chief Minister and Dy CMs to remember the sacrilege incident in our government’s rule, you had said that CM should be jailed, that CM-Dy CM had allowed it. You did politics and didn’t catch the guilty and deliberately spent 5 yrs in defaming Badal family and SAD.”

However, days after sacrilege incidents in Punjab, former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that there is “no justification for mob lynching” and it is “condemnable”.

To a question on lynchings in Amritsar and Kapurthala, Captain Amarinder said that the accused should have been handed over to the police. “No civilized society can and should approve of such killings.” On the issue of people getting angry for denial of justice over Behbal Kalan sacrilege, thus resorting to such killings, the former Chief Minister said, his government had pursued investigations into the matter from day one.

He said, first the state had to fight a long legal battle to get the inquiry back from the Central Bureau of Investigation and then the investigation was started and 22 people including police officials and civilians were arrested who are on bail now.

“There is no justification for mob lynching, whatsoever and it is condemnable,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will set up an inquiry panel to investigate the alleged sacrilege attempt at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, said Harjinder Singh Dhami, president, SGPC.

Dhami demanded that, meanwhile, Punjab Government should set up an inquiry to probe the alleged sacrilege attempt at Kapurthala gurdwara. “We demand that the Punjab govt set up an inquiry to probe the sacrilege attempt at Kapurthala gurdwara. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is setting up an inquiry panel for sacrilege incident (at Golden Temple) probe,” said Dhami.

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