Chandigarh: Hours after an unidentified man was lynched at the Golden Temple in Amritsar for attempted sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, another person was killed Sunday morning by a mob at a village gurdwara in Kapurthala for suspected theft and attempted sacrilege.
The killing took place at the Gurdwara Nijampur Mod on the Kapurthala-Subhanpur road amid a three-hour altercation between police and an agitated crowd that refused to hand over the suspect, police said.
The deceased is yet to be identified, said Kapurthala Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) H.P.S. Khaak, adding that the man was rushed to hospital after police managed to get custody of him from the crowd. “But at the hospital, the doctors have declared him dead,” Khaak told mediapersons outside the gurdwara.
The SSP said that in the small hours of Sunday morning, Amarjit Singh, the gurdwara’s manager, had seen someone who seemed to be a thief enter the premises.
“He also suspected that the man had probably entered to commit sacrilege. He alerted some others in the gurdwara and searched the premises. They found the miscreant just outside and brought him inside,” said Khaak.
“There, the gurdwara men went live on social media, announcing the incident and asking Sikh bodies to reach the gurdwara. The police came to know about the incident only after the live video went viral. By the time police arrived around 7.30 am, a big crowd had already gathered around the gurdwara, demanding that the culprit be dealt with by them,” he added.
For several hours, he said, police tried to convince the crowd to hand over the captured man, assuring them that justice would be done, but the crowd — led by Sikh organisations, including the gurdwara staff — refused. The crowd then sat on a dharna outside the gurdwara, demanding that the captured man be punished by them.
At one point, police sources added, policemen had to jostle with the crowd gathered inside the gurdwara in an attempt to gain access to the room where the man was kept.
“Further details are a matter of investigation. We will proceed in accordance with the law,” said Khaak.
Meanwhile, police have made no headway in Saturday’s Amritsar incident. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said Sunday that a Special Investigation Team would present its investigation report within two days.
Captured, beaten and filmed
The video taken in the morning shows the man lying on the floor as Amarjit Singh relates how he was caught. “This man first entered the room where Sukhmani Sahib paath is done. He searched through the room. While he was doing that, the power went off. He came down, and when I woke up around 4 am, I saw him and tried to nab him, but he pushed me and ran away.”
“We searched for him and found him after a lot of effort. Since then, he has been kept here and we have beaten him up. He is saying that he had come from Delhi and earlier his sister was killed for committing sacrilege. He could be part of a gang that has come to commit sacrilege in villages and cities of Punjab, like the incident at Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple) yesterday.”
He asked Sikh organisations to come to the gurdwara so that “appropriate action can be taken against him according to panthic traditions. “We should give him religious punishment on our own, because if we hand him over to the administration, they will not do anything — only declare him mentally upset,” said Amarjit Singh.
He added that the man was carrying the school ID cards of two children. “We called the number and a lady from a Hindu family from Kapurthala is here. She says she had recently thrown the cards away as her kids had grown up, and he must have picked them up,” said Amarjit Singh.
The woman is then seen interrogating the captured man and asking him where he got the ID cards.
An unverified video shows him being beaten up with a stick, and later his hands being tied.
Another video purportedly shows police jostling with the crowd to get custody of the man.
Ongoing investigation into Amritsar incident
The suspect in Saturday’s incident has yet to be identified, Randhawa, who also holds the home portfolio, told mediapersons in Amritsar Sunday morning.
Randhawa had come to Amritsar to hold a meeting with civil and police officers over the incident. He also spoke to the jathedar (head priest) of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal body of the Sikhs, and the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
Randhawa said that according to a preliminary investigation, the accused entered the Golden Temple complex at 11.30 am and stayed inside the parikarma (pathway surrounding the temple). “The accused was here with a target,” Randhawa said, adding, “CCTV footage of adjoining markets is being scanned to ascertain where he came from, and if anyone was with him.”
Randhawa also issued directions to the director general of police, all commissioners of police and senior superintendents of police to strengthen round-the-clock security around all gurdwaras, temples, mosques, churches and other religious sites. He said CCTVs should be operational in the parts of religious complexes where the Guru Granth Sahib or other scriptures are placed.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)