Over 1,200 people, including top politicians, gathered at the Bhaini Sahib Gurdwara on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Chand Kaur, wife of former head of the Namdhari sect late Satguru Jagjit Singh, who was shot dead by two bike-borne assailants on Monday.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, irrigation minister Sharanjit Singh, Congress leaders Charanjit Singh Channi and Ravneet Singh Bittu, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Ludhiana president Parveen Bansal and former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president HS Hanspal attended the cremation along with a huge number of Namdhari followers.
Some followers also flew in from abroad to pay tributes to the deceased. UK-based Tejinder Kaur, who has been Chand Kaur’s physiotherapist, reached the venue after taking first flight available from London. Followers from Tanzania, Thailand and other countries also reached Bhaini Sahib.
Thakur Dalip Singh, chief of the rival faction, who has been banned from entering Bhaini Sahib, was not present at the cremation. Also, sensing resentment among Namdhari followers, most other senior SAD leaders remained absent.
A peaceful affair
Earlier, some followers formed a human chain outside the gurdwara, wearing ‘We Want Justice’ bands on their arms. As Satguru Uday Singh, the present Namdhari chief, urged people to maintain peace, they soon dispersed. With heavy police deployment in place, the cremation remained peaceful.
The pyre was lit jointly by Satguru Uday Singh’s son Uttam Singh and Jai Singh, son of Chand Kaur’s daughter. Remembering the “selfless service” rendered by Chand Kaur throughout her life, Satguru Uday Singh said: “Even at this age (88), she used to clean utensils, serve langar and helped everyone who came to her. Maybe, it was because she was so approachable that the assailants managed to kill her.” Stating that it was not a day to make allegations, the sect chief told mediapersons that he wanted the ceremony to be peaceful in Chand Kaur’s memory.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said Chand Kaur was a very religious person and her untimely and sudden demise had pained him personally. He said the Punjab government was there for the aggrieved family as well as the entire Namdhari sect in this hour of grief. Badal said the assassins would be brought to book soon and the government was keeping a close tab on the progress of the probe being conducted by the special investigating team (SIT).
Cong demands Sukhbir’s resignation
The cremation turned into a political slugfest with the opposition leaders condemning the government for increasing lawlessness in the state. SAD leaders, meanwhile, slammed the opposition for politicising the issue.
Talking to mediapersons, Congress leaders, including leader of the opposition in state Vidhan Sabha Charanjit Singh Channi, Lok Sabha member from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu and former PPCC chief HS Hanspal, blamed the Punjab government for Chand Kaur’s gruesome murder. They even demanded deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s resignation, as he is holding the home portfolio in the state cabinet.
Demanding a time-bound SIT probe, Hanspal said the incident pointed towards police inaction despite the fact that the victim faced threat. Alleging complete breakdown of law and order in the state, Bittu went on to demand dissolution of the state assembly.
The chief minister maintained it was not a platform to level allegations. “The opposition is politicising everything, and adopts a negative approach towards every issue,” said Parkash Singh Badal, on being questioned about demand for his deputy’s resignation.