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Kapurthala gurdwara in-charge booked for murder, lynched man ‘made no attempt at sacrilege’

Punjab CM Channi announced FIR would be amended to murder, police say unidentified man was probably looking for food. Man lynched in Amritsar for 'sacrilege' also unidentified.

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Chandigarh: The Punjab Police have arrested Amarjit Singh, in-charge of Nijampur Mod Gurdwara in Kapurthala, for the murder of an unidentified man, who was killed by an enraged crowd on 19 December for suspected sacrilege and theft.

A case of murder against “Amarjit Singh and crowd” was registered Friday by the Kapurthala Police after investigation established that the man who was killed had made no attempt to commit sacrilege in the gurdwara. 

The murder case against Amarjit was registered within hours of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi telling mediapersons Friday morning in Chandigarh that the FIR (alleging sacrilege) will be amended to register a case of murder. 

“There is no evidence of sacrilege at all in Kapurthala,” the CM said, adding that the gurdwara was in the care of one man, the in-charge, who had “placed the Guru Granth Sahib on the top floor and his family was living downstairs on the ground floor”.

Also read: Who were the men lynched for ‘sacrilege’ in Amritsar & Kapurthala? No clue yet, say police

Kapurthala, Amritsar victims still unidentified

Speaking to ThePrint, Senior Superintendent of Police, Kapurthala, H.P.S. Khakh, said the victim is still unidentified. 

“Our investigation has established that the unidentified man was hungry and had probably come into the gurdwara looking for something to eat. He found some cooked rotis lying in the kitchen area, which he probably wanted to heat. He took them out with him to a nearby tea shop, where he lay down. The gurdwara people found him there and brought him back inside, where they beat him to death,” said Khakh.

“The victim was held hostage by the gurdwara in-charge. Instead of informing the police, practically next door to the gurdwara, he instead went live on his Facebook page and gathered a crowd outside the gurdwara, claiming that the victim had attempted to commit sacrilege. The police tried to reason with the crowd for hours, but they moved in to kill the accused,” the SSP said. 

Khakh added that a post mortem examination of the victim has been conducted and his body cremated after waiting for the mandatory 72 hours period for any relatives to claim the body.

Meanwhile, the Amritsar Police have not been able to ascertain the identity of the person who was lynched to death at the Golden Temple, also following an alleged bid to desecrate the Guru Granth Sahib in the sanctum sanctorum on 18 December.

Amritsar Police Commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill told ThePrint that although the special investigation team set up to probe the matter received three to four calls every day from families in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar claiming that the accused was either their missing brother or son, the claims were all false.

“Every attempt has been made to identify the person so that we can establish his motives and also if there are others involved,” said Gill.

The Golden Temple case

Gill added that CCTV footage from inside the Golden Temple and the nearby markets has been scrutinised. 

“It has revealed that the accused was either inside the Golden Temple all these days or in its vicinity. From 15 December onwards, the accused entered the sanctum sanctorum 17 times, before attempting the sacrilege on 18 December evening,” Gill said.

“He spent several hours inside the Golden Temple every day, due to which the staff of the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) also became suspicious. On 18 December evening, the SGPC staff had pulled him out of the crowd waiting to pay obeisance and asked him to leave, but he came back again and entered the queue of persons waiting to enter the sanctum sanctorum,” he added.

The commissioner said the police are still trying to find out where the accused was staying at night during this time. “While it seems that he was spending a large amount of time during the day, and possibly the night, inside the Golden Temple premises, there is CCTV footage of him sleeping in the open in a market outside the complex on 17 December. Many other visitors to the Golden Temple also use that area to spend the night,” he told ThePrint.

Gill said that the individual was most probably alone. “CCTV footage shows that he was alone and did not interact with anyone around him, even while he was sitting in the langar hall, eating food,” he said.

The body of the accused, Gill added, has been cremated after conducting a post mortem examination.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: UK MP condemns Punjab ‘sacrilege’ & lynchings, after blaming ‘Hindu terrorist’ in ‘deleted tweet’


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