Sikh protesters ended their 36-hour occupation of the highway to Kapurthala at 10.30pm here on Sunday after police rounded up the publisher of the recovered torn pages of a ‘bir’ (copy of Guru Granth Sahib).
Since Saturday morning — after more than 200 torn pages of the ‘bir’ were recovered from the Bist Doab Sub-canal, three mutilated copies of Sikh holy books found nearby, and torn pages of Hindu sacred text Bhagavad Gita also discovered — many meetings to pacify the agitators had failed. The protesters led by Satkar Committee chief Bhai Sukhjit Singh Khosa gave the local administration 7 days to arrest the culprits or the protest will resume.
After almost 36 hours, police rounded up the Amritsar-based publisher here on Sunday evening. Jalandhar police commissioner Arpit Shukla told the media that Jawahar Singh Kirpal Singh and Company had printed these pages in 1987 and its owner, Raghbir Singh, would now be questioned. “We aren’t yet sure who tore the pages and threw these into the canal,” he said. “Forensic experts will analyse whether the pages were torn or cut with a knife.”
At Mahavir Jain Bhawan, the administration had a series of meetings with the agitators all day. State police chief Suresh Arora also camped in the city, while deputy commissioner (DC) Kamal Kishore Yadav, police commissioner Arpit Shukla, and several ADCPs sat with Jagjit Singh Gaba and other leaders of the 31-member Sikh coordination committee.
At one time Khosa asked the protesters what they wanted and they raised their hands to convey they were staying. As the day progressed, their number crossed 200. They came from Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Phagwara, and Kapurthala mainly. Police deployed anti-riot squad on the spot.
Takht Damdama Sahib former jathedar Giani Kewal Singh, Akal Federation’s Sukhdev Singh, Dal Khalsa leaders, Lok Sabha MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary, and former Congress leader Jagmeet Brar got there. Even women and girls are holding prayers under tents pitched over the road. A Muslim group joined them. The traffic from Kapurthala was diverted to 120-foot-wide road and Shaheed Babu Labh Singh Nagar under police supervision.