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Kapurthala lynching: A man arrested after Punjab CM’s ‘No Sacrilege’ remark

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Chandigarh: Soon after Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Friday termed the mob lynching of a youth at a gurdwara in Kapurthala district last Sunday ‘a case of murder and not that of sacrilege’, the shrine’s caretaker was arrested.

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Notably, a man accused of trying to remove the Nishan Sahib (Sikh flag) at a gurdwara in Kapurthala was chased and beaten to death by a mob in the presence of the police on Sunday.

“The youth was lynched. The investigation is pointing towards a murder. We will modify the FIR accordingly,” he said at a press conference.

Meanwhile, the police has been maintaining that there was “no visible sign” of sacrilege but the act was done with an intension of theft. Investigating the alleged sacrilege case, where the victim in his twenties was mob lynched, the police on Friday arrested Amarjit Singh, the caretaker of the gurdwara, for murder.

Amarjit Singh was detained by the Kapurthala police on the day of lynching but was released on Sunday evening to avert a law and order situation. The police had been maintaining since Sunday that there has been no sacrilege and disrespecting of the Nishan Sahib (a Sikh flag) at the gurdwara.

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The youth, who remains unidentified but is suspected to have been a migrant, was killed a day after the lynching of another person at the Golden Temple in Amritsar over an alleged act of “sacrilege”. As per the autopsy report, there were 30 wounds present on the body of the youth killed in Kapurthala incident.

CM Channi also spoke about the blast at a Ludhiana court on Thursday, saying he had reached out to Union Home Minister Amit Shah for help in the investigation, and the Centre had sent teams. “We need the Centre’s help as Punjab does not have the equipment to check the kind of RDX used in the blast,” the CM said.

Channi added that the probe so far had shown that the only person who died in the blast was the one trying to set it up. “No one has taken responsibility for the blast yet. Neither have we got any indications (of who might be behind it),” he said.

On the Akali Dal accusing his government of politics in the registration of a case against SAD MLA Bikram Singh Majithia, Channi said he could not ignore his conscience. “I realised that he was responsible for ruining the youth of the state by spreading the menace of drugs. I did not want any excesses against anyone. When I was myself convinced that these people were responsible for the drug menace, we took action. Now, Majithia has absconded.”

On why it took so long to file an FIR against Majithia, when the STF report on which it is based had been lying with the High Court since 2018, Channi said the government acted after the court allowed it to act. “This case has not been made up by the Congress. This case came to light in 2013 when a Rs 6,000 crore-worth drug racket was unearthed and the main accused, Jagdish Bhola, levelled allegations against Majithia. His name is written in the police (records), ‘Jimni’.”

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Channi said the Enforcement Directorate that questioned Majithia held him guilty. “Navkiran Singh, the human rights activist, moved the court. All this happened during the SAD-BJP government.”

Channi said his predecessor, Congress CM Amarinder Singh, and the Advocate General at the time “did not take up the matter in court”. “Now we have done it. The HC has said we can go ahead… The (STF) report has enough evidence against Majithia.”

The CM said it was a tough fight. “It is a fight against the big fish and powers, we have to stand like a rock… I do not need money or power. I have jumped into this fight for the youth, for the mothers whose sons are trapped in the drug menace. No threat can stop us… We know how our police officers withstood pressure to take action. There were threats, offer of crores.”

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