Even after the registration of murder charges in the Behbal Kalan police firing case, the villagers went ahead on Thursday with starting an ‘akhand paath’ (continuous recitation of the holy book) by the Bathinda road where Sikh protesters Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjeet Singh were killed opposing the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib.
The peaceful protest on the site has continued for more than a week now. The villagers will continue with it till the ‘bhog’ ceremony of Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjeet Singh on October 25 and then decide the next course. The Akal Takht, faith’s highest temporal seat, has restrained all Sikhs from holding ‘akhand paaths’ on roadside. “We resent the police action of firing upon peaceful protesters, killing two agitators, and burning and smashing vehicles, for which we want compensation,” said Behbal Kalan resident Gurpreet Singh.
“The police took away the documents of my motorcycle after the cane charge and firing. The damaged vehicles were parked along the village link road,” said protester Gurmail Singh. “Murder case doesn’t satisfy us. We want the accused policemen identified and arrested. We had agreed to move our protest to the link road and asked for a few minutes to clear the main road, but police gave only a few seconds,” said villager Hakam Singh Sekhon. “The cops burnt my tent worth `70,000,” said Jaswant Singh, owner of Dhillon Tent House at the village.
“We are angry with the government as well over the unjustified police action,” said former sarpanch Surjeet Singh. In spite of all the anger, the Behbal Kalan protesters have kept road traffic open. They posed tough question to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) political affairs committee member Makhan Singh Nangal, though, when he reached the village to gauge if it would be safe for senior Akali leaders to come over. “The SGPC president has suspended the Panj Piaras who summoned the high priests over the dera controversy. Why didn’t the SGPC president, Akal Takht jathdedar, chief minister and his deputy resign for creating the row?” they asked him.
“He escaped our wrath because he has a cousin sister married into the village, whose family had invited him over. We have not condemned any political leader in our protest but no Akali leader has dared to approach us,” said villager Gurpreet Singh.
Another ‘akhand paath’ started at Bargari village in Faridkot district, from where the first desecration case was reported, and there no vehicle except school van, ambulance and tractor-trailer was allowed to pass. Asked to react on the Bajakhana FIR, Faridkot SSP SS Mann said: “All charges levelled by the villagers against police arebaseless.”