Chandigarh: Breaking the silence surrounding prominent Punjabi politicians on the subject of two brutal lynchings over alleged desecration of Sikh religious artefacts, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh unequivocally condemned the killings on Tuesday, stating that they were 'unacceptable' actions in a civilised society.
"Sacrilege is wrong but it is also wrong to kill a person. What is this way? There is the law. If you take the accused to the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a pan-national organization responsible for the management of gurudwaras) office, interrogate and kill him... Is this the way? This is illegal and this is absolutely unacceptable," the ex-Congress leader was quoted as saying by PTI.
Two men were killed in separate incidents on Sunday, one for attempting to seize the holy sword kept in front of the Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and another for allegedly desecrating the Sikh flag in the village of Kaparthala.
He dismissed concerns that Sikh sentiments had been stoked by the unresolved sacrilege case in 2015, where policemen fired upon protestors. The incident was a key issue that led to a decline in popularity for his government, although Singh claimed they had fought a long battle to get a CBI inquiry and also arrest culprits in the case.
Other prominent politicians have either refused to condemn the lynchings outright or have condemned the act of sacrilege itself, like Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu who called for perpetrators of sacrilege to be hanged. Rahul Gandhi indirectly referred to the incident when he tweeted that before 2014 and the BJP, the word "lynching" was practically unheard of.
SGPC President Harjinder Singh Dhami was more straightforward. "It is related to the Guru Granth Sahib and not just any social offence. We cannot bluntly condemn..." he told NDTV on Monday night. The same sentiment is prevailing over leaders in Punjab who, according to reports, are afraid to speak up fearing backlash from Sikh voters right before assembly polls.