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Holy Book Desecration: As Punjab Simmers, Police Hint At ‘Foreign’ Conspiracy

Punjab police on Tuesday claimed to have cracked one of the seven cases of sacrilege of holy books in the state with the arrest of two brothers, who committed the offence in connection with “someone in Australia”.

These arrest came a day after four other arrests and the police said they had solved five of seven incidents of desecration, and alleged a conspiracy hatched in Australia and Dubai.

Meanwhile, Punjab continued to simmer for the ninth straight day, with anger over incidents of alleged desecration of the holy book fuelling protests across the state. The government has deployed of paramilitary personnel in four districts to contain the situation.

Punjab is on the boil due to series of incidents of sacrilege of ‘birs’ (scriptures) of Guru Granth Sahib at seven places in the past one week which led to protests by Sikh organisations who blocked traffic at various places.

Bargari Incident Cracked Open

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) under ADGP IPS Sahota constituted after the sacrilege incident in Bargari village gurudwara in Faridkot and later at six other places in the state, concluded that “the accused became soft targets of anti-national forces due to greed and ambition of becoming rich”.

Sahota said the two brothers, identified as Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh, of Panjgrain village of Faridkot, were arrested in connection with the first incident of sacrilege in the state in Bargari village in Faridkot, where a violent clash erupted between police and Sikh protesters in which two persons were killed.

“Police took them into custody after intercepting their mobile calls between 14 to 16 October,” he said. He also read out the transcripts of the calls between the two brothers before media in Chandigarh.

“The brothers were in touch with someone in Australia,” he said, adding that police was trying to trace the person abroad.

The ADGP said more details of the investigations, including the foreign links, would be detailed in a couple of days as Punjab Police was finding the missing links and identifying persons operating from abroad and also their local conduits.

Sahota did not give out details of the accused abroad, saying “by doing so we will compromise with the investigations”.

Breakthrough Expected Soon

A total of six persons have so far been arrested in connection with five of the seven incidents which took place in the districts of Faridkot, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Tarn Taran besides Bhatinda and Ferozepur where the police is expecting a breakthrough soon.
The perpetrators behind Amritsar, Ludhiana and Tarn Taran incidents had already been arrested. One of them is a woman.

“They all are working in the gurudwaras… some of them are granthis,” he said.

On the Korian village sacrilege issue in Sangrur, he said that the Sikh shrine sewadar Hardev Singh had himself confessed to the crime.

On the Behbal Kalan village firing incident in which two persons died, he said the case is being separately probed.

He said that both the brothers are baptised Sikhs and had links with several organisations. He ruled out involvement of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda behind the incidents of sacrilege. He said police is probing the incidents at Ferozepur and Bathinda and assured that culprits will be caught soon.

Conspiracy To Set Punjab On Fire, Says Badal

Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds Home portfolio, described the incidents as “unfortunate” and assured strictest punishments to the culprits and also asked people to do prayers.

Badal, accompanied by five Akali heavyweights, was present at the press briefing called by the police this evening to announce the arrest of two brothers.

“My father, my family, the whole Akali leadership have been perturbed by the incidents and have been on a mission to nab the culprits. A conspiracy was hatched to set Punjab on fire and the faces behind it have come to the fore,” Sukhbir Badal said. His father Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal hinted at a cross-border hand in the incidents.