An alleged act of sacrilege at a temple in Nanak Nagar area sparked tension on Thursday. It was the second such incident in the city in less than 48 hours.
Police arrested Gurbachan Singh alias Minta, a local resident, for the incident. A police constable, Minta, 40, has been under suspension for nearly two years. The police and locals said he was a drug addict.
Witnesses said that Minta entered the temple around 5.30 pm, when women were participating in a satsang. Minta allegedly hurled abuses at them and kicked the Shiva idol. While leaving the temple, he was allegedly speaking on a mobile phone and said, “I have completed the task. Now deposit money in my account.”
While he was talking on the phone, an elderly woman caught hold of him and raised an alarm. People from nearby shops rushed to the temple and overpowered Minta and handed him over to the police.
A senior police officer declined to elaborate on the incident, saying they were busy maintaining law and order. Nanak Nagar is a Sikh-dominated area.
GPRS services were suspended for the second day today, but news of the incident spread fast. VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal workers arrived at Nanak Nagar raising slogans like “Bum Bum Bhole’’. However, the situation did not escalate as leaders of the local Sikh community condemned the incident. Announcing a bandh in Nanak Nagar on Friday, they asked the administration to charge the accused under the Public Safety Act. “Both Hindus and Sikhs have been living here in amity and we will not allow antisocial elements to disturb it,’’ said Balwinder Singh, a social activist.
Witnesses said this was a virtual repeat of the Janipur incident of Tuesday, when one Yasir Alfaz from Doda district allegedly desecrated a temple. Despite his arrest, violence broke out and a dozen people were injured. A total of 22 protesters were apprehended, and released unconditionally following a meeting between the administration and civil society members including representatives of the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal, and a threat by VHP leader Leela Karn Sharma of a “repeat of the 2008 Amarnath agitation”.
Sources said Health Minister Bali Bhagat backed Sharma’s demand and insisted that Alfaz be kept behind bars. “To me, the youth is not of unsound mind. Had he been so, he would have jumped into the river from Tawi bridge instead of coming to the temple to commit this sacrilegious act,” sources quoted him as saying. “We will not tolerate such activity and stern action will be taken against him,” he reportedly said.
A board of doctors at the Jammu Government Medical College will ascertain if Alfaz has a medical problem, Bhagat said. “The government will also look into his antecedents. I have instructed the IGP to do the needful,” he added.