Two Lynched In Punjab For Sacrilege In 24 Hours: What Happened So Far
Incidents of sacrilege are not new in Punjab. However, it has not resulted in lynching earlier.
Punjab is just weeks away from the Assembly elections. Meanwhile, there is heightened tension in the state following two lynchings, one after the other, in the span of 24 hours over alleged attempts of sacrilege in the Golden Temple and a gurdwara in Kapurthala district.
What Happened In Punjab?
On Saturday, a man believed to be a migrant was hacked to death by Sikh devotees after he allegedly removed the Sikh religious flag, Nishan Sahib, in a gurdwara near Nizampur village in Kapurthala district of Punjab. The residents of the village told reporters that they caught the man at the gurdwara and that he was seen "disrespecting" the Nishan Sahib around 4 am on Sunday.
The incident happened just 24 hours after another man was lynched by angry devotees inside the Golden Temple of Amritsar when he jumped the golden grills and entered the enclosure where the Granth Sahib — which the Sikhs call their 11th Guru — is kept. He then picked the golden sword kept there and reached close to the priest who was reciting the Guru Granth Sahib.
In yet another incident on Wednesday, a man had thrown a holy book "Gutka Sahib" in the lake at the Golden Temple.
What Is Sacrilege?
According to the Oxford dictionary, sacrilege is defined as the misuse or violation of what is regarded as sacred. The issue of sacrilege has always remained controversial in Punjab politics. In Sikhism, the holy book Guru Granth Sahib and anything associated to it are considered sacred, and disrespecting them in any way amounts to sacrilege. Apart from the Guru Granth Sahib, dastaar, kirpan and the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh religious flag) are also regarded holy.
While such incidents of sacrilege are not new in Punjab, the lynchings that followed are unprecedented.
In June 2015, a saroop (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village in Faridkot district. In the same year in September, abusive posters targeting Sikhs and Sikh preachers were seen in a samadh near Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village.
On October 12, 2015, torn pages of Guru Granth Sahib were found scattered near Bargari village gurdwara and nearby streets in Punjab.
While protests were held and arrests were made in these cases of sacrilege, devotees did not attempt to take the law into their hands.
#PunjabStandsTogether- What Has The Police Said?
DGP, Punjab police, Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, has said that stern action will be taken against those disturbing the law and order in the state.
"I have taken serious note of the unfortunate incidents in Amritsar and Kapurthala. Any attempt to violate the communal harmony in the state will be dealt with a firm hand. Stern action will be taken against all those disturbing the law and order in Punjab. #PunjabStandsTogether," he tweeted.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said, "It is an unfortunate incident. It seems that the person came with the target of sacrilege only as he was there for eight to nine hours. He has not been identified yet. We will investigate the matter."
Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday condemned the alleged sacrilege attempt in the Golden Temple and directed state police to "thoroughly probe the matter and find the real conspirators."
However, Inspector-General, Jalandhar Range, GS Dhillon, said in a press conference that so far the investigations have not revealed any visible sign of sacrilege.
A case has been registered under IPC section 295A related to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. In the Golden Temple incident, the police have registered a case against the youth under IPC sections 295A, apart from 307 (attempt to murder).
How Have The Politicians Reacted?
In a statement, RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale strongly condemned the "avmanana" (disrespect) of the Guru Granth Sahib, and called for the strictest punishment for those behind the "conspiracy". He urged people to not allow such incidents affect communal harmony.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of the BKU (Ugrahan), the largest farm union of the state, told Indian Express that the incident is part of a "conspiracy" to deflect the attention of the people. "From Monday, we are starting dharnas to demand the promised compensation for damaged cotton. Now the entire focus of the public is on these issues. If you want to stop beadbi (desecration) and unearth the conspiracy, hand over the culprits to the police, why kill them?" Kokrikalan said.
While there is anger against those who allegedly conspired these sacrilege attempts and investigations are being initiated, little has been said about the devotees who killed the accused. No action has been initiated against the lynchers.
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