TENSION GRIPPED Malerkotla’s Hathoa village in the early hours of Sunday after Palki Sahib area of the village gurdwara was found to be under fire.
The incident came to light at around 4 am Sunday morning and villagers were called by the granthi to douse the flames. Pages of the holy Guru Granth Sahib and the entire Palki Sahib area was burnt to ashes.
Lock of the gurdwara was found broken leading locals to claim that someone had broken in to enter the hall and start the fire. Parallel Jathedars Baljeet Singh Daduwal, Dhian Singh Mand and few other Sikh organisations reached the spot apart from IG Patiala range A S Rai.
Rai while talking to The Indian Express said,”It is really an unfortunate incident and we have lodged FIR with charges of hurting religious sentiments against unidentified persons. We have taken the broken lock in our possession. Though it is being said that someone broke open the door of gurdwara to cause the fire, it is being investigated as to whether the lock was open or was locked on Saturday night.”
The carpet inside the hall was burnt to ashes apart from the roof, fans and other electrical gadgets being damaged.
The area falls in the constituency of Razia Sultana, a Punjab Cabinet minister.
Soni Hathoa, a village resident said,”We are waiting for the police to complete their investigation. As polls are near and political parties are raising allegations against each other, one cannot rule out political rivalry.”
Gurmukh Singh, member of Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee, condemned the incident and also asked the police to probe the matter to unravel the mystery as soon as possible.
IG Rai said, “The team is investigating the matter and as of now, we cannot comment on any political angle. We have collected all evidences from the spot, had a conversation with villagers. We are examining as to whether it was a short circuit or someone planned it. It is an unfortunate incident, but probe is on. We are hopeful to reach at a conclusion within two days. A team from Chandigarh was also called to collect evidence, and even power corporation employees were called to study whether it was short circuit. “
Earlier in June 2016, torn pages of Quran were found in Malerkotla during SAD-BJP rule and there was widespread violence after the incident.
Apart from this, first sacrilege incident in Punjab had happened in October, 2015 followed by Behbal Kalan firing case killing two persons.
Later, a total of 113 sacrilege incidents happened during SAD-BJP tenure which were probed by Justice Ranjit Singh Commission formed by Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh.
Sacrilege incident at Bargari and Behbal Kalan firing was a hot political issue in 2017 and even this Lok Sabha polls.