2 ‘granthis’ held for sacrilege as Punjab remains on edge

With no let-up in protests over sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab, police on Monday arrested two ‘granthis’ and a woman for desecrating the holy book.

Activists of various outfits blocked roads and highways at several places across the state that witnessed shutdowns and protest marches.

A ‘granthi’ of a gurdwara at Nijjapura village in Amritsar district was arrested for allegedly desecrating the holy book. Amritsar senior superintendent of police (rural) Jasdeep Singh Saini said the cops on Sunday night received a call from the priest of a gurudwara at Nijjarpura that three persons forcibly entered the shrine and tore off the pages of the holy book.

“The statement of priest appeared false following which he was interrogated by police,” he said. The 30-year-old ‘granthi’, identified as Jagdeep Singh, later confessed that he had committed the crime and had tried to mislead police, said Saini.

In another case, Ludhiana police arrested a woman, identified as Balwinder Kaur, 45, and ‘granthi’ Sikandar Singh, 46 in connection with the Ghawaddi village desecration case. The woman, a baptised Sikh, is a ‘sewadar’ in the gurdwara. The granthi has been held for concealing the facts.

Meanwhile, Amritsar remained tense with protesters brandishing swords took to the streets and forcibly got the shops and commercial establishments closed. Areas around Golden Temple, Katra Ahluwalia, Pink Plaza and the entire walled city witnessed a complete shutdown.

In Tarn Taran, hundreds of shopkeepers staged a protest against police.

Congress’ deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh along with 20 party MLAs on Monday offered prayers at the Golden Temple for peace and religious harmony in the state.

Sikh outfits continued to stage dharnas at several places in Punjab against incidents of sacrilege and to press for arrest of police officials involved in firing at Behbal Kalan village in which two persons were killed.

Several highways in the state remained blocked for hours together as traffic was diverted, police said.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur visited the dharna site near Gurdaspur.

In Jalandhar, a clash took place between Sikh activists and shopkeepers. Groups of Sikhs also blocked traffic on National Highway 1 at Chaheru Bein over-bridge on Phagwara-Jalandhar section of the highway.

Protest marches were also taken out at various places, including Faridkot, Moga, Mansa, Tarn Taran, Sangrur and Bathinda.

All educational institutions remained closed for the sixth day in Moga city while state owned roadways were off the roads. At Bargari village in Faridkot district, where the first incident of sacrilege was reported, SGPC members are holding prayers at the Sikh shrine.

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