Cops suspect threat call made to SGPC 'hollow'
The Muzzafarnagar resident, who has been held for allegedly making a threat call to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Wednesday, might not have had any intention of carrying out the threat, but the Amritsar police are not taking the issue "lightly" and will approach the SGPC authorities to beef up security at the Golden Temple complex.punjab Updated: Sep 20, 2014 23:04 IST
The Muzzafarnagar resident, who has been held for allegedly making a threat call to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Wednesday, might not have had any intention of carrying out the threat, but the Amritsar police are not taking the issue "lightly" and will approach the SGPC authorities to beef up security at the Golden Temple complex.
"It may be a hollow threat and the person making the call may not have any (terrorist) connection, but we are taking it seriously, as it concerns the Golden Temple, a shrine which is visited by thousands of devotees everyday," stated Jatinder Singh Aulakh, commissioner of police (CP), Amritsar.
The CP made this statement to Hindustan Times on Saturday after thoroughly questioning the accused, Kamal Verma (25), in an effort to know the motive behind the threat he had issued.
Verma, who was arrested on Thursday from the SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Dass Serai, had made a call to Golden Temple manager Partap Singh and warned him of "dire consequences if he did not pay him money". The amount had not been specified.
Aulakh said the accused was neither associated with any terrorist group nor was he part of any gang of criminals or extortionists. He was operating on his own and had no weapon or equipment that could point out that he was serious in carrying out his threat.
"I feel that he wanted to play a prank and so made the call. We are also getting him medically examined, but so far we have not found anything that could link him to a criminal gang. He also has no past criminal record," said Aulakh.
After his arrest, Verma claimed that once his bag was stolen from the shrine and he had made the phone call just to ensure that the security arrangements were improved there. The threat call had led the SGPC to tighten the security at the shrine and issue instructions not to allow handbags into the shrine.
The call led the Amritsar police all the way to Muzzafarnagar, while a massive search operation was mounted in and around the Golden Temple after it became clear that the caller was in the city, possibly inside the shrine.
Meeting with SGPC
Pointing out that such threat calls should never be taken "lightly", especially if these concerned with the Golden Temple, Aulakh indicated that he would be meeting SGPC officials to discuss the security issue.
"The shrine is always packed with devotees and it becomes the duty of the SGPC and ours to ensure their safety," he added, while pointing out that he intends to review the entire security setup of the shrine with the SGPC.
"Certain amendments will have to be made, particularly with reference to the stay of devotees or tourists in SGPC-run serais," he said.
SGPC rules specify that a devotee is allotted a room for a maximum of three days and if he wishes to prolong his stay, he must approach the authorities of the concerned sarai again.
The three-day rule has been made keeping in view 'akand paath' and 'bhog' ceremonies that stretch for three days. Such akand paaths are booked in advance by families or individuals, who also book rooms for their stay in the serais, if they happen to be from outside the city.
Though SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and secretary Dalmegh Singh did not respond to the telephone calls made by HT, a 'sewadar' at Sri Guru Ram Dass Sarai confided that the threat caller had been staying at the serai for the last 5-7 days and had not followed the mandatory procedure of seeking permission for extending his stay nor did any of the sewadars question him on extending his stay.
During the meeting, the CP will be asking the SGPC authorities to strictly monitor the stay of each and every pilgrim at their serais and not to be lax. A meeting of the CP with owners of hotels and guesthouses in the vicinity of the shrine is also likely, as majority of them do not follow the procedure of sending a list of the guests checking-in to the police station concerned.