Two motorcycle-borne men appearing to be baptised Sikhs shot a sacrilege-accused woman, Balwinder Kaur (47), in full public view outside Gurdwara Manji Sahib at Alamgir village near here on Tuesday morning.
Accused of desecrating Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib last October, the woman from Ludhiana’s Ghawaddi village was now out on bail. The shooters raised the gun at her younger son, three-wheeler driver Ranjodh Singh (25), too, but it misfired. The fleeing murderers dropped a letter saying they had avenged sacrilege. Police concealed the letter. In the 20 shops around the gurdwara, they found no witness.
Before killing Balwinder Kaur, the men — later indentified from the security-camera footage as Gurpreet Singh Jagowal of Amargarh of Sangrur and Nihal Singh of Patiala — engaged the woman and her son in conversation for about 15 minutes outside the shrine, which suggests that they knew her.
The Dehlon police registered a murder case against Jagowal and Nihal, who are linked to a Sikh radical group.
“They called the woman to the gurdwara on the pretext of helping her out with money,” said police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh. “When she got in at 8am, Jagowal and Nihal, who had been waiting for 30 minutes, sat in Ranjoth’s three-wheeler. After a while, they took out what seemed like country-made pistols and shot the woman in the chest and got away on a white motorcycle parked a few metres away.”
After the sacrilege incident, the woman and her son had taken shelter with her daughter, Rajwant Kaur of Jawaddi, and sister, Amarjit Kaur of Dholewal. The accused had given her some money two months ago and promised to rehabilitate her.
Sarpanch framed her: Daughter
Rajwant Kaur, daughter of shooting victim Balwinder Kaur, said Ghawaddi’s sarpanch had framed her mother in the sacrilege case. “My mother was a baptised Sikh. How can a woman who spent seven years serving the gurdwara disrespect Guru Granth Sahib?” she said. “Police arrest her to avoid investigation, and after she got out on bail, the sarpanch barred her from the village.”