Tension prevailed in Jodhpur village in this district as panthic leaders descended on the village on Thursday to demand the arrest of those who were alleged to be responsible for the burning of a bir of Guru Granth Sahib in the village gurdwara recently.
Taking the lead in demanding stern punishment for the alleged miscreants was Akal Takht jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar. They had gathered at the village in connection with the 'bhog and ardas' (prayer meeting) ceremony in honour of the bir that was destroyed in the fire on Monday.
Calling it as an act of sacrilege, the Akal Takht jathedar said, "Those responsible for the burning of the bir should be sentenced to death as the Guru Granth Sahib is the living guru of the Sikhs".
The jathedar was addressing the people who had gathered at the village for the 'bhog and ardas' ceremony,
SGPC chief Makkar also demanded stern punishment for the miscreants and in his speech he said, "Those responsible for this unfortunate incident, whether they belong to the Nurmahal-based sect Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) or to any other organisation, should be arrested and brought before the law".
The Akal Takht jathedar, however, appealed for peace and asked the people not to get instigated. Certain anti-Sikh elements wanted to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the state by indulging in such incidents, he added.
Meanwhile, the police, after initial investigations, have registered a case against nine persons believed to be supporters of DJJS. The case was registered on the complaint of Ajit Singh, a granthi at the Singh Sabha gurdwara in the village where the bir was allegedly set on fire.
The FIR has been registered under sections 452 (trespassing), 295-A (hurting religious sentiments), 436 and 427 of the IPC. Those booked in the case are Harjit Singh, Lovely, Balkar Singh, Rinku, Dalbir Singh, Maan Singh, Bhola, Sucha Singh and Tejinder Singh.
When contacted, SSP Manmohan Kumar Sharma told HT that four of the accused had been taken into custody.
"We are questioning them", the SSP said when asked whether those figuring in the FIR were followers of the Nurmahal-based sect.
The Akal Takht jathedar asked the district administration to arrest all those involved in the incident by December 12.
"If no concrete action is taken in the case by then, we will be forced to call a meeting of all Sikh organisations in the village ," he added.
He said that till December 12, four more 'bhog' ceremonies to pay homage to the burnt bir will be held in the village. He said that it was a clear case of sacrilege of the scripture and Sikhs will not tolerate such acts.
Meanwhile, a number of SGPC members demanded that the state government put a ban on the activities of the DJJS as these were 'anti-panthic' and hurt Sikh religious sentiments.