Chandigarh: An unidentified man who allegedly attempted to desecrate the Guru Granth Sahib (considered to be a living Guru by the Sikhs) in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple was lynched in Amritsar Saturday evening.
According to sources in Punjab Police, the man was in his twenties and from Uttar Pradesh.
The entire episode of his alleged attempt to desecrate the Guru Granth Sahib was caught on camera by a Punjabi TV channel that telecasts the temple proceedings live.
The incident took place around 6 pm, when the last of the daily prayers, the Rehrehas Sahib paath, was going on.
The accused, who was waiting with the others to pay obeisance, is seen suddenly jumping over the railing that divides the devotees from the area where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept.
He then appears to reach out for the golden kirpan kept in the area and lunge for the Guru Granth Sahib but is caught by the granthi paathis (readers of the Guru Granth Sahib) and the task force of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). He is then seen trying to attack the latter with the kirpan before he is overpowered.
ThePrint reached Amritsar City Police Commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill and SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami by calls for a comment, but there was no response by the time of publishing this report.
This is the second attempt of desecration to have taken place in the Golden Temple within days. On Wednesday, a man was apprehended by SGPC staff for allegedly throwing a gutka (a book of prayers of the Sikhs) into the sarovar (holy body of water surrounding the Golden Temple). The culprit, identified as Ranbir Singh, was handed over to police.
The incidents come weeks before the state goes to polls to elect its next government.
‘Lynched by devotees’
According to police sources, after he was caught, the man was dragged out of the sanctum sanctorum and taken to a room in the Golden Temple complex where he was interrogated by the SGPC staff and task force.
He was taken to the SGPC office located in the Teja Singh Samundari Hall where he was allegedly thrashed by enraged devotees and lynched.
As news of the sacrilege attempt spread, members of several Sikh organisations started gathering outside the SGPC office demanding that the culprit be handed over to them.
The culprit’s body was then allegedly placed outside the gate of the SGPC office for all to see. Unverified videos of him lying on the road with devotees gathered around hailing his death have gone viral.
Police later shifted his body to a hospital and are trying to identify him.
Both the BJP and the SAD have alleged a conspiracy behind the incident. BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said in a tweet that he had spoken to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the latter had promised the Union government’s help to uncover the “conspiracy of desecration”.
श्री दरबार साहिब में हुई बेअदबी घटना बाबत गृहमंत्री @AmitShah जी से बात हुई
उन्होंने भारी दुख जताते हुए कहा कि हम SGPC को विश्वास दिलाते हैं भारत सरकार बेअदबी की साज़िश को बेनकाब करने के लिए पूरा सहयोग देगी
उन्होंने कहा, बेअदबी पर कारवाई के लिये वह @CMOPb से भी तुरंत बात करेंगे pic.twitter.com/h9oKlj7xoo
— Manjinder Singh Sirsa (@mssirsa) December 18, 2021
Former Punjab CM and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal S Parkash described the incident as “deeply shocking and exceedingly painful”. Badal said it was unbelievable that “such a painful and brazen crime” could be committed at “the holiest shrine of humanity” by a single individual, adding that the possibility of a deep-rooted conspiracy cannot be ruled out.
After the Wednesday incident, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami had told mediapersons that the desecration incident should not be seen in isolation. “It seems to be a conspiracy hatched to provoke sentiments of the Sikhs and vitiate the atmosphere of Punjab,” he had said.
A series of alleged sacrilege incidents that took place in Punjab in 2015 had snowballed into a major election issue ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, leading to the decimation of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance. Desecration had been a poll plank for the Congress, which won the election.
An earlier version of this report erroneously projected the SGPC president’s comments about the Wednesday incident as being about Saturday’s lynching. The error is regretted.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)