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Malerkotla gurdwara fire accidental, granthi cooked up sacrilege story, say police

Police said the fire broke out accidentally due to overheating of a wall fan inside the sanctum sanctorum of the gurdwara in Hathoa village of Malerkotla.

chandigarh Updated: May 14, 2019 13:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
malerkotla sacrilege case,hathoa,holy book burnt copy case
Police say the case was solved by the fire forensic experts from Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Sangrur, and the findings were corroborated by an expert team from Mumbai.(HT Photo )

A day after the ‘bir’ (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib was found burnt in a gurdwara at Hathoa village of Malerkotla, the police, on Monday have claimed to have cracked the ‘sacrilege case’. Police say the fire was an accidental, but the granthi, for fear of being blamed for negligence and losing his job, reportedly tried to cover up with a concocted story of a break-in.

Police said the case was solved by the concerted efforts of fire forensic experts from Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Sangrur, and the findings were corroborated by an expert team from Mumbai led by Gopal Relkar, which was flown in on Monday by the Punjab Police.

In a statement, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, lauded the collaborative efforts of these teams, under the guidance of SSP Sangrur, Sandeep Garg and IG Patiala–AS Rai, with DGP Dinkar Gupta monitoring investigations and assessing the situation at the spot.

Captain Amarinder commended the police for unraveling the case, which could have sparked off communal tensions in the state, in record time, unlike the regime of the Akalis, who had failed to crack any sacrilege case which had rocked their government, especially in 2015.

SSP Sandeep Garg said that investigations had revealed that the fire broke out accidentally due to overheating of a wall fan inside the sanctum sanctorum of the gurdwara. The PVC casing of the fan caught fire, which in turn set aflame the orange parna with which the wall fan had been tied to the palki sahib pillar. Both the fan and the parna fell onto the carpet, which also caught fire and it eventually spread to the ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib, setting it aflame.

The police said the granthi, Joga Singh, confessed to having cooked up the Darbar Hall break-in story when confronted with the forensic and circumstantial evidence.

“He was afraid of being blamed of negligence by villagers and of being discharged from service. However, now the police will act against Joga Singh as per law,” said SSP Garg.

First Published: May 14, 2019 13:03 IST