Chandigarh, July 26: The killing of Balwinder Kaur, 45, an accused in the case of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib outside the historic Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir near Ludhiana just can’t be dismissed as a routine crime and it should be treated as a warning signal. At one level, this betrays the anger among the people over the failure of the Parkash Singh Badal government to check such incidents that continue to occur almost with alarming regularity.
Balwinder Kaur of Ghawaddi village was gunned down by two men riding a motorcycle in the morning on Tuesday. She had been arrested for allegedly desecrating the holy book on October 19, 2015 and later released on bail.
Police said someone called her to meet him near Gurdwara Manji Sahib at Alamgir. As she reached there in an auto-rickshaw accompanied by her son, two unidentified men riding a motorcycle fired at her. She died on the spot.
The police had arrested Balwinder Kaur for the alleged sacrilege at the Ghawaddi gurdwara where she had been serving for over two decades. She had come out on bail recently.
Two persons riding a motorcycle killed so and so used to be the routine narrative before Operation Bluestar in June, 1984.
The recent incidents of sacrilege of religious scriptures in Punjab can be traced to June 1, 2015 when a Bir of Guru Granth Sahib went missing from a gurdwara in Burj Jawahar Singh Wala in Faridkot district. That Bir is still to be traced. The torn pages of Guru Granth Sahib were found scattered in nearby Bargari village a few weeks later triggering strong protest. The police fired on peaceful protesters at Behbal Kalan near Bargari who had blocked the highway killing two persons. The police arrested two brothers within hours from Panj Grain village in the area and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal the case had been solved. However, they had to be released under public pressure as they were found to be innocent.
People came out on the roads all over the state to register protest against the failure of the Badal government to nab the culprits and take action against the cops guilty of killing two persons. Neither the missing Bir has been traced nor the police officials who opened fire identified. This has added to the anger against the government. The culmination of this anger was the massive Sikh gathering at Chabba village near Amritsar on November 10 last year that was claimed to be Sarbat Khalsa by the organisers. However, the movement dissipated due to the failure of the leadership to match up to the situation.
One can compare the present failure of the Badal government in nabbing those responsible for the killing of Sikh protesters on the April 13, 1978 at Amritsar. The protest was against Nirankaris and Nirankari chief Gurbachan Singh was safely escorted out of the state by the district police. The Sikhs had been attacked by the Nirankaris.
No culprit was arrested from the spot. The shoddy police investigation resulted in acquittal of Nirankari chief and other accused in early 1980. Nirankari chief Gurbachan Singh was killed by Bhai Ranjit Singh on April 24, 1980. Badal has then come under attack both from Akali Dal chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gurcharan Singh Tohra for soft pedalling the issue. It has never been known till date as to on whose instructions the Amritsar police escorted out the Nirankari chief. The police chief was B S Danewalia with Gurbachan Jagat as the Amritsar Senior Superintendent of Police. The genesis of militancy is traced to the Amritsar Baisakhi tragedy.
Badal again happens to be the Chief Minister. The police have failed to check incidents of sacrilege. Malerkotla recently witnessed desecration of Muslim holy book Quran in which AAP MLA Naresh Yadav has been arrested. This is the only case in which police have shown such efficiency.
It is in this background that the killing of sacrilege accused could be a warning signal. Not that it could lead Punjab towards the same dark tunnel once again. However, the issue is of the failure of the law and order machinery that is under Sukhbir Badal as he also happens to be the Home Minister.