After days of denying any link with Gurpreet Singh Jagowal, the main accused in the murder of a woman booked for desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in a Ludhiana village last year, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Wednesday came out in support of all the five accused and announced to bear their legal expenses in the case.
Local leaders of the party and their supporters reached the court during the hearing of the case Wednesday, and “welcomed” the accused with flowers. They were also carrying placards in support of the accused. Besides Jagowal of Sangrur, three more accused, identified as Jagjeet Singh and Gurwinder Singh of Barnala and Harbans Singh of Nabha, have been arrested for allegedly helping Jagowal and Nihal Singh of Patiala in procuring weapons and hatching the murder conspiracy.
Balwinder Kaur, 47, was shot dead allegedly by Jagowal and Nihal Singh on July 26. All five accused in the case were sent to police remand till August 7. Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, the defence counsel, moved the application that the accused were being harassed in police custody, to which judicial magistrate Lovejinder Kaur directed the investigating officer to look into the matter.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Jaswant Singh Cheema, district president SAD (A), said, “The party has decided to support the accused in the case, and it was on the direction of our party president Simranjit Singh Mann that we went to court. The accused have done no wrong, the woman had dared to disrespect Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The entire Sikh sangat is with them and we will bear the expenses lof their legal fight.” The accused, meanwhile, during their interrogation, have told the police that “they did not regret killing Balwinder Kaur and that they took revenge on behalf of the entire Sikh panth”.
A local leader of SAD (A), Jagowal is a resident of Amargarh in Sangrur. He is also a member of the Muslim-Sikh Front of Punjab and runs his own “preachers” group” and a “gatka akhara”. According to the akhara’s Facebook page, youths enrolled there are taught the Sikh martial arts gatka as well as “how to fire rifles and pistols”. The akhara’s Facebook page has several photos of youths holding weapons. A supporter of the Khalistan movement and slain Khalistani leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, his akhara also offers “lessons” on the movement, police sources said.