The two-room accommodation of the gurdwara head at the historic Gurdwara Ramsar at Mallan village in Gidderbaha’s Muktsar district, where a clash took place Wednesday morning leaving three dead and several injured, was ransacked and had bloodstains on its floor and the walls. There were bullet marks all over the verandah as well as in the parking area of the gurdwara.
Villagers claimed more than 50 shots were fired when the two rival factions of Shiromani Panth Akali Baba Budha Dal, a religious outfit of Nihang Sikhs, clashed to take control of the gurdwara.
Two cars that were torched in the violence remained parked inside the premises. Security personnel were deployed outside.
A day after the incident, police haven’t made any arrest even as an FIR against 13 named and 10 unidentified people has been lodged. Most of the accused have criminal past, said police.
It is said that on Tuesday night, the faction led by Naib Singh arrived at the gurdwara and asked the current gurdwara head, Makhan Singh, to leave the gaddi. The group showed a letter of possession in Naib Singh’s name, which, they claimed, was written by Budha Dal head Balbir Singh. The letter, it is now suspected, could be fake.
Makhan Singh had been managing the affairs of the gurdwara since 1997. It is located on the outskirts of the village and also has about 12 acres of farm land as well as other gurdwara properties.
Makhan Singh is learnt to have left the gurdwara Tuesday night only to return with armed men Wednesday morning.
In the clash that ensued soon after, both groups exchanged fire, leaving Naib Singh (63), his grandson Harvinder Singh (28) and Amritpal ( 33), a close relative of Naib Singh.
While Naib Singh had sustained four bullet injuries, Harvinder and Amritpal sustained three each as per the post-mortem examination report.
Naib and Harvinder were cremated this evening in the village amid tight security while Amritpal’s body was sent to Mehtabgarh Gurdwara in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district as he was the head of that gurdwara.
On Thursday, the entrance gate of the gurdwara sported a banner that had Naib Singh claiming himself to be the head of the gurdwara, on the instructions of Baba Balbir Singh, head of the Baba Budha Dal sect that has over 450 gurdwaras world over, with most of them in Punjab.
Naib Singh was already in-charge of four gurdwaras, in Bathinda, Kotkapura and Jalalabad.
Though the elder brother of Naib Singh , Gurdev Singh, said: “My brother had a letter from the head of Baba Budha Dal, authorising him to take charge of Mallan village gurdwara. He had shown that letter to Makhan Singh, who had left the gurdwara immediately.”
However, Jassa Singh, personal assistant to Balbir Singh, contradicted the claim. “We never issued any such letter. No doubt, those who committed the crime were our own, but we never issued the said letter. We will ask the family (of Naib Singh) to clarify on this issue once the cremation is over.”
Jassa Singh added: “The way they entered the gurdwara to take possession was uncalled for. We demand strictest possible action against the culprits.”
SSP, Muktsar, S S Gill, when contacted, said, “We are on the job. Raids are being conducted at several places. We will nab the accused soon.”
Gill told that a licensed weapon of Naib Singh, a 0.32 bore revolver, had been recovered from the spot where the clash took place. “So far, we have identified the use of 0.12 bore rifle by the accused,” he added.
Most accused have criminal past
Accused Ranjit Singh, Charanjeet Singh, Harpreet Singh, Darshan Singh, all landlords of Mallan village, have criminal past, said police. While Charanjeet was sentenced to 10 years jail in a murder case, others have cases of law and order, property disputes and other cases against them.
Among the accused is also the granthi of Ramsar gurdwara, Satnam Singh Chingaria.