- Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa stated in a letter to HM Amit Shah that “sacrilege of holy books is becoming a significant issue in Punjab.”
- The Deputy Chief Minister also stated that “the state has written to the Centre numerous times regarding the awaiting assent.”
- In Punjab, two people were beaten to death in less than 24 hours for alleged sacrilege.
In the aftermath of two lynchings for suspected sacrilege, Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has requested the central to seek President’s approval on two state Bills calling for harsher punishment in sacrilege cases.
The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 cleared the Assembly in 2018 obtained Punjab Governor’s consent, and are now pending President’s assent.
The laws state that anybody who causes harm or sacrilege to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Quran with the intent of offending people’s religious sentiments faces up to life imprisonment.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday, Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister said that “sacrilege of sacred scriptures is becoming a big concern in Punjab.”
“Shri Guru Granth Sahib is considered a living Guru and not an object by the Sikhs and it is accorded respect according to Sikh maryada,” he wrote.
The current legal provisions, which allow for up to three years in prison, according to the Deputy Chief Minister, are “inadequate to cope with this situation.”
“Punjab being a border state, it is extremely necessary to maintain communal harmony here. Deterrent punishment is required for anyone attempting to disrupt communal harmony by participating in sacrileges. So, I again request that the Presidential assent for the said Bills may kindly be obtained and conveyed to the State Government, at the earliest possible.”
In less than 24 hours, two people were beaten to death in Punjab for alleged sacrilege.
On Saturday evening, a man leaped into the enclosure where the Guru Granth Sahib was kept at Amritsar’s Golden Temple. As priests attempted to subdue him, he was spotted taking up a golden sword. He was subsequently beaten to death.
Another guy was beaten to death the next day in Kapurthala’s Nijampur district. While residents said they spotted him “disrespecting” the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag), police stated it looked to be a case of theft rather than sacrilege.