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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Golden temple lynching: Sacrilege returns to Punjab centre stage

🔴 A man was beaten to death for an act of “desecration” in the holiest of Sikh shrines, Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple).

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 19, 2021 9:58:10 am
Golden Temple, Punjab news, Darbar Sahib, Charanjit Singh Channi, Golden Temple sacrilege attempt, Golden Temple news, SGPC, Indian ExpressCrowd outside the gate of Teja Singh Samundri Hall, the headquarters of the SGPC. (Express photo by Rana Simranjit Singh)

Six years after incidents of sacrilege and subsequent police firing at Behbal Kalan in Faridkot district where two anti-sacrilege protesters were killed in 2015 and was a prominent factor which led to a humiliating defeat of erstwhile SAD-BJP alliance in 2017 Punjab elections, the sacrilege saga came to centre-stage in poll-bound Punjab again after a man was beaten to death for an act of “desecration” in the holiest of Sikh shrines, Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple).

In a set of three tweets, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said “strongly condemned the most unfortunate and heinous act to attempt sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Harimandir Sahib during the path of Sri Rehras Sahib; strongly condemned the most unfortunate and heinous act to attempt sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib; and called up SGPC president and assured government’s full support and cooperation to get into the bottom of the case”.

Akali Dal patron and five-time 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”. He added that it was “unbelievable that such a painful and brazen crime could be committed at the holiest shrine of humanity by a single individual”. He said that “the whole conspiracy needs to be probed, exposed and those behind it be given exemplary punishment”.

Badal’s son and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal in a written statement expressed “shock and disbelief at the most heinous outrage of the attempt to commit sacrilege at our highest and the holiest shrine Sachkhand Shri Harmandar Sahib”.

Sukhbir added that “it is impossible to believe that this could be the act of just one person. There clearly is a deep-rooted conspiracy behind it”.

Coming down heavily against the state government, Sukhbir said, “There were strong indications of such a conspiracy being weaved. Only the other day, there was a shocking incident of gutka sahib being thrown in the holy sarovar. After that, the state agencies could not have been unaware of a deep-rooted conspiracy that led to today’s shocking sequence of events. But no one did anything nor took any steps to prevent such a heinous crime from happening. What are the intelligence agencies doing?”

Former 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!”

Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma said, “It is most condemnable act. It should be thoroughly investigated.” Sharma also blamed the Congress government in Punjab for failing to take action in the past cases of sacrilege.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has been actively campaigning in Punjab, tweeted his dismay at the sacrilege. “People are in shock. This could be a very big conspiracy. The most strict punishment should be meted out to the culprits.”

Akali leader Virsa Singh Valtoha said that as per information with him, the behaviour of the man who committed desecration was “normal” in the CCTV footage and he was “alone”. Valtoha added that had the man not been overpowered within fraction of seconds, he could have gone to commit “gross blasphemy as he had entered the sanctum sanctorum and picked up the sword of Maharaja Ranjit Singh lying next to Guru Granth Sahib”.

“This is an attempt to vitiate the atmosphere of Punjab by forces which are either anti-national, anti-Punjab, anti-Sikhs or working for political interests”.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who holds home portfolio, termed the incident “very condemnable”. Randhawa said, “Had the sacrilege accused not been killed, information about the conspiracy behind the act of sacrilege could have been extracted from him and the truth come out.” The minister, however, added that on sacrilege issue, members of Sikh community act on “emotions”.

On the BJP allegations that the Congress government had “failed” to take action in the past cases of sacrilege, Randhawa said the incident on Saturday happened in Golden Temple where the police were not even allowed to enter.

Significantly, this is the second incident in about two months when someone accused of desecration was lynched. In October, during protests over three farm laws, a man, Lakhbir Singh, was lynched to death at Singhu border over allegations of sacrilege.

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