“If such sacrilege incidents take place in the future, the culprit should face the same fate because the police have not acted in the past.” This seemed to be the prevailing mood at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Monday, 48 hours after a person, who is still unidentified, was lynched to death for attempting sacrilege.
News18 spent a day at the Golden Temple premises on Monday and found that most visitors to the shrine backed the lynching. It was also business as usual at the temple premises and the shops outside, but with some beefed up security in civil clothes outside the complex after the events of Saturday.
Heads of Panthik organisations, during a congregation called by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), praised the SGPC and gave full support on their action against the man who had attempted sacrilege. They also shared their views that if the police don’t take action, as is clear from previous cases, and if such incidents take place in the future, the culprit will be “eliminated immediately”. But, they also urged it to ensure that no “innocent person” is harmed. SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami was present during the assembly at the Golden Temple on Monday.
“The SGPC has done a good job. Whosoever does such acts in the future, will get eliminated immediately, but we have to ensure that no innocent person gets trapped in this," Baba Balbir Singh, head of the Panth Akali Budha Dal, said in the assembly.
The heads also questioned why such incidents of sacrilege were taking place just before elections in Punjab. “We want to warn the Centre as well as the Punjab government. Governments come and go, but why are such things happening with the Sikhs ahead of elections? There is peace in Punjab… don’t try to disturb it, please sort this out," Baba Balbir Singh added.
“The enemy wants to solve many purposes with this incident of sacrilege and wants to harm the Khalsa Panth," Baba Avtar Singh said while raising a question as to whether it was a “planned conspiracy”.
Some heads of Sikh bodies also pointed out that in the previous sacrilege incidents, police failed to even identify the person who attempted sacrilege and the culprits had faced no action. They also said that “the Panth is capable enough to save their religion and their religious places”. Various heads assured the SGPC that they “all are with them”.
‘Accused Was Trained, Entered Premises Thrice’
SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami said the man who attempted sacrilege was “a trained person just like a commando” and it was a deliberate conspiracy.
“CCTV camera footage shows that the accused had reached Sri Harmandir Sahib through Jallianwala Bagh Marg at 8:30 am on Saturday. He first came from Sri Akal Takht Sahib around 9am to enter the procession, but left after few minutes. He later went to langar house around 9:38 am and had langar and tea. Finally, he entered the procession around 10:19am and reached Sri Harmandir Sahib Darbar at 10:34am. At 10:37am, he went upstairs and came out in one hour. At 5:46pm, he attempted sacrilege," Dhami said.
Visitors to the Golden Temple on Monday were mostly aware of the incident. Most of them supported the killing of the accused and batted for similar “punishment” for any such attempts in the future. A few people, visiting from other parts of the country, said killing was not an option.
“The incident is very unfortunate. But the punishment which the accused has been given is perfect. This is the only way we can stop sacrilege at holy places," Kuldeep Kumar, a visitor, told News18.
A family from West Bengal, however, said the lynching was wrong. “Taking the life of a person for attempting sacrilege is not correct. He should have been handed over to the police. Killing is not correct," visitor Abhijeet Chakravarty said.
The incident has not made any impact on the footfall at the Golden Temple either.
A policeman here said the movement of visitors was as per usual even when police first arrived on the scene after the lynching. He added that police were deployed in plainclothes after the incident and had not entered the temple.
“When local police reached here, visitors were moving as usual, clicking photos of the Golden Temple and praying. Many of them were not aware of the incident," the Punjab Police official said.
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