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'Sangat Karugi Insaaf': How Anger Over Govt Inaction in 2015 Sacrilege Cases is Provoking Punjab Lynchings

By: Aman Sharma

News18.com

Last Updated: December 21, 2021, 10:29 IST

Police keep vigil at the Golden Temple in Amritsar before Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi's visit on December 19, 2021, following a case of 'sacrilege' and subsequent lynching. (PTI Photo)

Police keep vigil at the Golden Temple in Amritsar before Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi's visit on December 19, 2021, following a case of 'sacrilege' and subsequent lynching. (PTI Photo)

After two people were lynched to death for two separate sacrilege attempts in Amritsar and Kapurthala, Sikh organisations say such reaction would not have been seen had action been taken in the 2015 Faridkot sacrilege and police firing cases.

Sangat Karugi Insaaf (the people will do justice) — this seems to be the refrain in Punjab after two people were lynched to death in as many days following sacrilege attempts at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and a gurdwara in Kapurthala, underlining how the issue of sacrilege remains the biggest emotive issue in the poll-bound state.

The Punjab Police and central agencies are now working overtime to unearth the “conspiracy” behind the sacrilege attempts ahead of Punjab elections 2022. But the violent reaction of people in these cases is highlighting the new sense of ‘instant justice’ as Sikhs feel culprits of the major sacrilege cases in 2015 in Faridkot were not punished, with a series of Special Investigation Teams (SITs) and inquiry commissions set up by the government not delivering.

Videos of the events in Kapurthala show that the crowd paid no heed to the police who were trying to take away the accused from the spot, with people saying the ‘Sikh Sangat’ will interrogate the accused and deliver justice. Some even lament that no action has happened in over three dozen sacrilege cases in the past. Sikh organisations and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is also maintaining that if action had been taken in past cases, such reaction may not have happened.

ALSO READ | Ground Report: Business as Usual at Golden Temple as SGPC Congregation Backs Lynching of Sacrilege Accused

Punjab Home Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa has now set up another SIT in the Golden Temple case but Sikh organisations say they have seen many such SITs in the past. At least five SITs and two inquiry commissions have worked since 2015 to deliver justice in the Faridkot sacrilege and police firing cases, but with little success. The families of the two youths killed in police firing in 2015 during a protest against the sacrilege incident say their kin had died but the sacrilege accused are still roaming free.

The anger in Faridkot (Punjab’s Malwa region) over the inaction since 2015 is now showing across the state, especially in the Sikh Panthic stronghold Majha region which has Amritsar and Kapurthala where the latest incidents have taken place.

The Congress had come to power in 2017 on the back of a promise to punish the culprits of sacrilege cases, but has not delivered and then chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, too, has jumped ship.

On the back foot, the Punjab government is now hesitant to act and no FIR has been registered so far in the lynching case in Amritsar though a case against the deceased has been lodged for sacrilege. In Kapurthala, senior police officials first confirmed an FIR against four persons for killing the accused, but later did a U-turn in the press conference on Sunday saying that FIR “is still under process”.

Even the new SITs set up by the High Court earlier this year with a 6-month deadline till November to probe and give a report in the 2015 cases have not been able to make much headway despite recently questioning former CM Parkash Singh Badal, then deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and the jailed Baba Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda. A key accused and Dera supporter arrested earlier was killed mysteriously in jail in 2019.

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu advocated on Sunday that those carrying out sacrilege should be hanged. So far, it seems it is the people who have taken cue from it to deliver ‘instant justice’.

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first published:December 20, 2021, 08:39 IST
last updated:December 21, 2021, 10:29 IST
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