Lynching sits heavy on everyone’s conscience.
It does Indian democracy no good when our leaders, both political and judicial, and conscience-keeper Media, look the other way.
It’s worse when it fits a narrative, as it did in the case of Akhlaq and Pehlu, and when it doesn’t as is the case with two unknowns who have been lynched in two Gurdwaras of Punjab.
In the first instance, it suited to paint the BJP in a communal corner. In the second, it would help with Sikh votes in the Punjab polls, due in a couple of months.
Political parties, of all hues, have tried to appear in the corner of Sikhs in recent months. It helps them if Sikhs are reminded of their distinct and valiant history.
- So, a rape and barbaric lynching at a protesting farmers’ site is glossed over;
- T-shirts emblazoned with the image of separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was openly sported yet ignored;
- It didn’t matter that the tricolour, symbol of India’s integrity, was “sacrileged” for Nishan Sahib on Republic Day;
- And now two lynchings have been met with stone-dead silence.
There is another strand which is woven into this dangerous fabric.
Only a few months before the polls, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh is replaced by the Gandhis of Congress.
He was a popular leader, had defied history in winning Punjab for Congress against all odds, but the hounds hunted him down. He was loyal, was the best bet for Congress against Akalis, BJPs or AAP, and yet he was waylaid.
Captain Amarinder Singh did two things which neither Gandhis nor their pretty boy Navjot Singh Sidhu rarely do. Capt Amarinder Singh minced no words on Pakistan and the arms, ammunition and drugs which came from across the border. He also unfailingly spoke for Indian army against the terrorism by our western neighbour.
This brings in the Pakistan Factor in recent happenings in Punjab.
Most in this country would be inclined to believe that the outrage on farm laws, now repealed, was heavily funded. The Greta Thunberg toolkit episode, the demonstrations in Western capitals etc does lend credence to the suspicion that Pakistan’s ISI and Khalistanis played no small part. And they did this to prime the Sikhs on their identity.
Think about it: A Khalistan as a new State would suit regional politicians and certainly ISI which eyes the region for its water, critical to Pakistan’s survival.
But does it suit Congress too?
Or why would they remove their best bet Captain Amarinder Singh just before the polls?
Why would it promote a nonentity like Navjot Singh Sidhu over Captain Amarinder Singh?
Is it Pakistan which is pulling the strings from behind?
You put all these pieces of jigsaw together and an educated guess on the lynchings emerges.
The one at Amritsar is well-documented. A man jumps and does “beadbi” (sacrilege) in Golden Temple and is beaten to death by outraged faithfuls.
The second one at Kartarpur, within 24 hours, isn’t as straightforward. The unknown man never did any sacrilege.
The Granthi of the Gurdwara, Amarjit Singh, in a video, admits the man was never able to reach Guru Granth Sahib or where its Five Saroops are kept. He had only entered the adjoining room. Even the local SSP said it was no sacrilege.
Yet the Granthi exhorted Sikh organisations in a video to teach the “dusht” (evil man) a lesson on his “beadbi”.
And exhorted them to the extent that despite a considerable presence of the police, the man was lynched to death as an afterthought, many hours later. His body was found to have eight deep sharp cuts of swords.
Interestingly, before he was lynched, the man said he was paid to do what he did, as reported by Dainik Bhaskar.
A little background would only help the readers.
Navjot Singh Sidhu has long harped that Captain Amarinder Singh did nothing in that infamous 2015 instance of religious sacrilege. Indeed, police took action against the gathered protestors days later and two persons were killed in its firing.
Now Capt. Amarinder Singh is back with a new party and BJP by his side. As suspected, several MPs, MLAs and former State ministers are lining up to join him. A sizeable number of Dalit Sikhs votes—30% of state’s population—could go to them.
If Capt Amarinder and BJP were to emerge victorious, it would hurt the Akalis and be a gut blow to Congress, and no less to Pakistan and Khalistanis, who have worked overtime to wean Sikhs away from the Republic of India.
The narrative of religious sacrilege, just before polls, fits this mould. Anyone but Amarinder-BJP is the script. This religious sacrilege theme would incessantly be spoken about from public platforms in coming days.
Sikhs are devout faithfuls. They do go to any length to preserve the sanctity of their religion. But does every Sikh approves of lynching in retribution? Let’s say the jury is out.
It must always be the preserve of law and order. For its’ not just one lynching. When mobs begin dispensing justice, it cuts either way. A free-for-all would doom the nation.
In this respect, it makes sense to promulgate an ordinance which makes “religious sacrilege” open to deterring punishment. Presently, under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it’s a maximum jail term for three years. But it’s rarely enforced. And that’s where devours tend to take matters in their own hands. If the State shows a firm hand, mob-justice could thin out. And the State could make the deterrent stiffer.
Sikhs, however, need be mindful if they are being led on a leash by the fundamentalists, politicians and media. They should see through this game. Who stops these charlatans if tomorrow a Sikh is caught and lynched desecrating a Mosque or a Mandir? If they are silent on these lynchings, how would they speak if one of their own is lynched in future? And who it all would help? India-breakers, surely.
One hopes Sikhs speak through their votes in the coming Punjab polls: Voting against those who prefer unrest in Punjab, stone citizens with drugs, and who prefer a Khalistan carved out of India. They need to stand with those who are Punjab’s best bet for social cohesion; a bulwark against arms and drugs from across the border.