Punjab forms SIT to probe sacrilege bid at Golden Temple

By, Amritsar
Dec 20, 2021 05:02 AM IST

The Punjab government has formed a SIT to probe the alleged sacrilege attempt at the Golden Temple on Saturday.

The Punjab government has formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the alleged sacrilege attempt at the Golden Temple on Saturday, deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said on Sunday, even as the police continued their efforts to ascertain the identity of the man who was beaten to death soon after the incident.

Police at Golden Temple ahead of Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi's visit, in Amritsar, on Sunday. (PTI)
Police at Golden Temple ahead of Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi's visit, in Amritsar, on Sunday. (PTI)

Randhawa, who also holds the home portfolio, held a meeting with the deputy commissioner, the police commissioner, the inspector general of police (border range), the Amritsar rural SSP and other officials.

Calling the incident “most unfortunate”, he said the SIT has been constituted under the deputy commissioner of police (law and order) Parminder Singh Bhandal, which would submit its report in two days.

Also read | Day after Golden Temple sacrilege attempt, Punjab CM blames ‘bad elements’

The accused, Randhawa said, entered the shrine “with a target” and spent a few hours at the holiest shrine of the Sikhs.

“It has also come to the fore during our preliminary investigation that the accused entered the Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) complex at 11.30am and he stayed near the Parikarma of the shrine, which suggested that the accused was here with a target. He also slept in front of the Akal Takht for some time,” he said.

A case under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the unidentified accused, Amritsar police commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill said on Sunday. Section 307 for attempt to murder has also been added in the FIR as the accused, before being pulled away, picked up a diamond-encrusted sword placed in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, Gill said.

In videos of the incident, which were widely circulated on social media on Saturday, the man can be seen jumping across the railings inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, picking up the sword and approaching the priest who was reciting evening prayers. He was caught by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) task force members.

When he was being taken to the SGPC office, angry pilgrims grabbed him and beat him to death before police arrived.

Randhawa said he spoke to the SGPC president and the Akal Takht jathedar (head priest) after the incident.

The man was yet to be identified, he said.

“No mobile phone, no wallet, no identity card or Aadhaar card was found on him,” the deputy chief minister said.

Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who visited the shrine on Sunday, alleged that some “inimical” forces may be involved in the incident in view of the upcoming Assembly polls. “I appeal to the sangat that they should pay special attention to take care of religious places—temples and gurdwaras—and institutions of all religions. People should maintain peace and mutual brotherhood,” said Channi.

The state is scheduled to go to the polls early next year.

If anyone has come with wrong intention, our intelligence agencies will try to nab and expose them, he said. “We will go to the bottom of the incident,” Channi said.

Randhawa told the media that video footage from CCTV cameras inside the Golden Temple and markets adjoining the shrine was being examined for more details about the accused.

The deputy chief minister said the state government would write to the Centre seeking approval to amendments in Section 298 and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code, as resolved by Punjab Assembly in 2018.Under Section 295 and 295-A, the offence is punishable with a a sentence of two and three years, respectively.

The amendment resolved by the assembly added provisions for imprisonment of 10 years for anyone committing sacrilege against the sacred symbols of any religion, he said.

(With agency inputs)

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    Surjit Singh is a correspondent. He covers politics and agriculture, besides religious affairs and Indo-Pak border in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

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