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On May 4, a tragic incident occurred at Gurdwara Sahib Baba Bir Singh in Bandala village, Ferozpur, Punjab, resulting in the death of a 19-year-old youth named Bakshish Singh, also known as Gola. Allegations of sacrilege against Bakshish led to a violent confrontation with angry devotees outside the gurdwara premises. Reportedly, Bakshish tore the ‘Holy Ang’ of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, prompting the enraged devotees to apprehend and mercilessly beat him before the police intervened. Bakshish later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.

The family revealed that Bakshish suffered from mental health issues and had been under treatment for the past two years. Despite his condition, Bakshish found himself at the center of a tragic altercation with grave consequences.

The question is, How can we make sense of the tragic cycle where individuals with mental challenges allegedly commit sacrilege, only to face brutal lynching in response, with such violence then being justified?

Akal Takht ‘Farmaan’ ‘Justifying’ the lynching

Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Giani Raghbir Singh, expressed deep sorrow over the sacrilege incident and endorsed the SGPC’s stance, advocating for social and religious boycotts against the families of those accused of sacrilege.

The complete statement by SGPC read, “Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib Giani Raghbir Singh today expressed deep grief over the incident of sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji at Gurdwara Baba Bir Singh in Bandala village in Ferozepur district and termed the death of the accused of sacrilege as a reaction to the ‘failure to punish the culprits and give exemplary punishments by law’. Moreover, the Jathedar has also ordered the Sikh Sangat to socially and religiously boycott the family of the accused of sacrilege and not to allow the last rites of the accused to be held in any Gurdwara Sahib. Today in a statement issued from the Secretariat, Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh said that for a long time, incidents of sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji have been taking place under a well-planned conspiracy. He said that the government’s law is neither proving successful in stopping the incidents of sacrilege nor in punishing the culprits. He said that today’s incident of sacrilege at Gurdwara Baba Bir Singh in Bandala village of Ferozepur district is a very unfortunate incident in this series which has hurt the sentiments of Sikhs. He said that for Sikhs there is nothing above Sri Guru Granth Sahib and incidents of sacrilege badly harm the soul and mentality of Sikhs. The Jathedar said that when the rule of law fails miserably in performing its duty, then people are forced to seek justice in their own way. He also warned the government that instead of troubling the Sangat or any Sikh regarding the death of the accused of sacrilege, the truth should be brought before the Sangat as soon as possible as to who sent the accused of sacrilege and under what conspiracy.”

Amritsar Golden Temple Incident (December 18, 2021):

On December 18, 2021, a disturbing incident unfolded at the Amritsar Golden Temple, the most revered place for Sikhs. A man forcefully entered the inner sanctum, where the holy scripture of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, is housed. Seizing a ceremonial sword adjacent to the sacred book, he was swiftly subdued by Sikh guards and worshippers. Before law enforcement could intervene, the man was fatally beaten by the crowd.

Phagwara Gurdwara Chaura Khooh Incident (December 19, 2021):

The subsequent day, December 19, 2021, witnessed another grim event. A mentally challenged individual, driven by hunger, stole a piece of chapati from the kitchen of a gurudwara in Phagwara. However, instead of being treated with compassion, he faced a violent response. The police investigation suggested a case of theft rather than sacrilege.

Phagwara Gurdwara Chaura Khooh Murder (January 16, 2024):

Moving forward to January 16, 2024, a shocking act of violence occurred at the Gurdwara Chaura Khooh in Phagwara. A Nihang named Ramandeep Singh allegedly murdered a man, Vishal Kapoor, under suspicion of sacrilege. Despite no evidence supporting the sacrilege claim, Ramandeep brutally executed the victim, recording the act and later confessing to it on social media.

Kapurthala Nijampur Village Incident (December 20, 2022):

Another tragic event unfolded on December 20, 2022, in Kapurthala’s Nijampur village. A migrant laborer, Ankit Kumar, fell victim to a mob led by the gurdwara caretaker, Amarjit Singh, who suspected him of sacrilege without evidence. The brutality of the attack, resulting in 30 injuries on Ankit’s body, underscored the violence stemming from baseless accusations.

Golden Temple Incident (Two Years Unsolved):

The Golden Temple incident of December 18, 2021, remains unresolved even after two years. Despite efforts by law enforcement, the identity of the victim, who was lynched on the premises, remains unknown. The lack of progress in the investigation has raised concerns within the community.

Kotkapura Dera Follower’s Murder (November 10, 2022):

In Kotkapura, on November 10, 2022, a Dera Sacha Sauda follower, Pardeep Singh Kataria, was fatally shot by assailants linked to gangster Goldy Brar. The murder, allegedly in retaliation for sacrilege incidents, prompted a legal pursuit against the accused, including invoking the UAPA.

Patiala Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib Shooting (May 15, 2023):

A tragic incident occurred in Patiala on May 15, 2023, as a woman, Parminder Kaur, was fatally shot by Nirmaljeet Singh Saini inside the Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib premises. The shooting, triggered by the woman’s alleged consumption of alcohol, highlighted the severity of responses to perceived sacrilege.

Morinda Kotwali Sahib Gurdwara Incident (April 24, 2023):

At Morinda’s Kotwali Sahib Gurdwara on April 24, 2023, Jasvir Singh desecrated the Guru Granth Sahib, leading to his arrest. However, his subsequent death in custody raised questions about the circumstances and treatment within the judicial system

Ludhiana Gurdwara Manji Sahib Murder (July 26, 2016):

On July 26, 2016, a heartbreaking incident unfolded at a local gurdwara in Ludhiana’s Ghawaddi village, resulting in the tragic death of a 47-year-old woman named Balwinder Kaur. The motive behind her murder was allegedly linked to the perceived desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib. Balwinder Kaur, a baptized Sikh who had devotedly served at the gurdwara for seven years, fell victim to this appalling act.

The perpetrators, identified as Jaspreet Singh alias Nihal Singh from Patiala’s Ranjit Nagar and Gurpreet Singh alias Khalsa aka Baba from Sangrur’s Amargarh, cunningly lured the woman to Gurdwara Manji Sahib at Alamgir village on October 19, 2015. Under the pretense of offering her financial assistance, they enticed her to the gurdwara. However, their true intentions were sinister. In a shocking display of violence, they shot her in full public view outside the gurdwara. Their act of vengeance for perceived sacrilege was further emphasized by a letter they left behind at the scene. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the extreme measures taken in response to alleged violations of religious sanctity.

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