A political blame game between the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has begun over the alleged desecration of the Quran in the Muslim-majority town of Malerkotla in Punjab.
Tensions flared after the prayers on the third Friday of the holy month of Ramzan as news spread of torn pages of the Quran were found in a drain in front of the cemetery on Khanna Road. Within minutes, a mob had gathered.
Punjab Muslim Front chairperson Shehzaad Hussain claimed more than 1,000 pages of two new copies of the holy book were found torn. The pages were later buried in the cemetery.
WHO WAS ARRESTED
A businessman, who is known to be a Pakistan-basher, is among three men arrested on the charges of burning the Islamic holy book. Police say the trio wanted to start a communal riot to “avenge” the Gurdaspur and Pathankot terror attacks by Pakistani intruders in July 2015 and January 2016, respectively.
The main accused, Vijay Kumar of Jind in Haryana, has stayed in Canada and his alleged accomplices, Nand Kishore Goldy and his son, Gaurav, are from Begowal village in Taragarh area of Pathankot district.
A day after the police announced the arrest, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said one of them was its Punjab unit secretary (organisation) and being framed.
The affiliation of Nand Kishore ‘Goldy’ — whose son Gaurav too is under arrest along with Delhi businessman Vijay Kumar — became known when the VHP’s state vice-president Devinder Kumar and other functionaries held a press conference in Sangrur.
Vijay Kumar claimed on Saturday that he did it at the behest of the AAP’s Delhi MLA Naresh Yadav, who was his “friend”. Yadav, however, has denied his role in the incident.
“I know many people named Vijay. But I am learning through the media about such an incident in Malerkotla,” Yadav said.
Sangrur superintendent of police Pritpal Singh said the “MLA will be summoned” based on Vijay’s claim, which came on the eve of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s three-day Punjab tour.
‘Restless’ SAD-BJP alliance hatching conspiracies: Naresh Yadav
Yadav alleged that a “restless” SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab was hatching conspiracies.
He said the alliance had become restless as the people of Punjab have decided to give absolute majority to the AAP in the upcoming assembly elections.
“I have become a victim of false conspiracies. I am working in Punjab. So now they (BJP-SAD alliance) are trying to falsely trap the people one after another. Their restlessness is evident,” he said.
AAP disturbing communal harmony, says BJP
Demanding strict action against the AAP MLA, the BJP said the incident exposed the real face of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, which hatches conspiracies and spreads hatred for electoral benefit.
Taking a jibe at Yadav’s remark, BJP leader Manoj Tiwari told ANI: “They will disrupt communal harmony and divide the people. This is the real face of the AAP. There should be strict probe against him (Yadav).”
SAD calls for strict action against AAP MLA
Asserting that the charges against Yadav were extremely serious, the SAD called for strict action after a thorough probe into the matter.
SAD leader Manjeet Singh called on the AAP to be cautious as they proceed with their campaign because Punjab is a border area.
“Right from the ’80s, Punjab has seen many problems. First the Guru Granth Saheb was disrespected and now Quran Sharif is being desecrated. AAP is welcome to fight the elections, however, they should not create any troubles there,” Singh said.
With inputs from agencies