Chandigarh: A man who was lynched to death in Amritsar for allegedly trying to desecrate the Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple has still not been identified, over 48 hours after the incident. The identity of another young man who was killed for suspected theft and ‘sacrilege’ at a village gurudwara in Kapurthala Sunday has also not been ascertained.
Police sources told ThePrint that no relatives or acquaintances of the deceased have come forward to claim the bodies. They added that postmortem examinations would be conducted after the lapse of the mandatory 72 hours for claimants to come forward.
P.S. Bhandal, joint commissioner of police (Law and Order), Amritsar, who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the government to probe the “conspiracy” behind the sacrilege attempt at the Golden Temple, told ThePrint that every effort was being made to identify the man.
“We have advertised his picture and also shared it with police stations across the country. We have also broadcast our mobile numbers so that any information with regard to this person can be made available,” he said.
Bhandal added that the police are trying to match the fingerprints of the man with biometric information from the Aadhaar database. “Apart from this, our teams are going through the CCTV footage of the roads around the Golden Temple to find out if he was staying nearby, or where he had come from,” Bhandal said.
In the case of the Kapurthala incident, police sources said it appeared that the man was trying to steal food and there was no “evidence” of sacrilege having been committed.
Golden Temple sacrilege accused had langar, ‘paid obeisance twice’
According to the SIT, it appears as if the man entered the Golden Temple complex alone. “He came inside the complex at around 9:30am, after which he kept roaming about without any purpose for most of the day. He went to the langar hall and had langar (free meal served by the gurudwara). Then he came back to the Parikrama and sat down. He went more than once into the sanctum sanctorum to pay obeisance,” Bhandal told ThePrint.
At around 6pm, when the last of the daily prayers was taking place, the man suddenly jumped over the railing placed around the Guru Granth Sahib, considered a living Guru by Sikhs. He then appeared to reach for the kirpan (ceremonial knife) kept in the area and lunged towards the Guru Granth Sahib, but was quickly overpowered.
Addressing a press conference Monday evening, Harjinder Singh Dhami, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), gave further details about the man’s movements. According to him, the SGPC task force had found the man’s loitering suspicious and had made him leave the complex more than once. “He managed to get inside again when the task force on morning duty were replaced by the task force on duty in the evening. This man seemed to be commando trained… he did everything in barely six seconds,” Dhami said. He added that the SGPC was waiting for the SIT to make some headway into “this deep-rooted conspiracy”.
The police have not been able to gather any information about the man from his belongings so far. “The clothes he was wearing were readymade and there is not even a stitch of an identification mark of any tailor etc,” Bhandal said.
“We have to wait for 72 hours for someone to come forward and claim the body before we can get a postmortem conducted,” Bhandal said.
Bhandal said he wished to issue an appeal that anyone who has any information about the man can call him at 9781130101 or 9915701100.
The Kapurthala case
The Kapurthala police have also not been able to make any headway into identifying the man who was killed by an enraged crowd at a gurudwara in Nijampur village for suspected theft and sacrilege.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Kapurthala H.P.S. Khakh told ThePrint that so far there is no evidence that any sacrilege took place. “We have registered a case of sacrilege on the statement of the gurudwara in-charge Amarjit Singh. However, there is no evidence till now of any sacrilege having taken place,” he said.
Khakh said that a video of the man, apparently made the evening before the incident, had surfaced. “It was made by some onlookers outside a gym at Kanjili (which is on the same road as the Nijampur gurdwara). The girl who made the video had come out of the gym at about 7:50pm and saw this man who seemed be dressed strangely. He had a peacock feather on his head. He was carrying many plastic bags. She asked him if he was dressed like Lord Krishna, but he did not reply,” Khakh said.
According to the SSP, it is likely that the man entered the gurudwara to steal food.
“The circumstantial evidence suggests that this man had probably entered the gurudwara to steal something. He was also probably hungry because the first thing he did was to pick up some rotis lying in the cooking area and ran out with them to a nearby tea shop where he lay down. The gurudwara people found him there and brought him back inside,” said Khakh.
“Instead of informing the police, the in-charge of the gurudwara started making live videos of beating him up and gathered a crowd outside the gurudwara,” Khakh added.
Asked whether the gurudwara in-charge Amarjit Singh would have any reason to claim that the incident involved sacrilege, Khakh said he did not have enough information to comment.
“We only know that he does not have much faith in the police. He has been objecting to the presence of a police post near his gurudwara. Apart from that, all we know is that he has been regularly leading jathas (groups) from Punjab to visit Sikh shrines in Pakistan,” Khakh said.
There have been no verified leads about the man’s identity despite his pictures and videos going viral. “We did get a call from a woman in Patna, Bihar, saying he might be her brother who had gone missing, but he was found that evening. There are no identification marks found on the body either and nothing can be made out from his clothes,” Khakh added.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)
A previous version of this report incorrectly translated ‘jathas‘ as armed processions. The error is regretted.