Lynching as a religion, the caste simmers; silent suspicious political leaders


The deafening silence of the political establishment, both in Punjab and Haryana, the lynching of a Dalit Sikh by a group of Nihangs on the Singhu border for the alleged desecration of their sacred text speaks volumes about the fault lines it exposes – and hardens.

As the Punjab Assembly elections approach, religion has become a hot potato with caste. Just last week, Akal Takht’s chief priest Giani Harpreet Singh warned of what he called the dangers of forced conversions by Christian missionaries in the border belt. Dalit activists blamed it on the low representation of SCs and STs in the Sikh clergy.

This concern was raised just weeks after Charanjit Singh Channi was elevated as the state’s SC chief minister.

It was in April that PPCC chairman Navjot Singh Sidhu brought the desecration of holy guru Granth Sahib to the forefront of politics when he criticized Captain Amarinder Singh for not defending the guru. He was referring to the 2015 sacrilege incident in the village of Bargari, where pages of holy guru Granth Sahib were found scattered outside the Gurudwara village.

On September 28, he tweeted his resignation to protest the appointment of two officials, an attorney general and the DGP, given their backgrounds, the first for allegedly protecting an accused and the second for not doing enough to solve the case. He said the government needed to take concrete steps to appease widespread public anger over sacrilege which he said led to the ousting of the previous SAD-BJP government.

When a group of Nihangs lynched a man on Friday and accused him of desecration, the Punjab Congress was eerily silent on the matter, without any comment from Sidhu, the chief minister, past and present. Even Akali Dal’s leader Sukhbir Singh Badal has kept a studied silence.

Congressman Partap Singh Bajwa, when contacted, said that at first glance, the act he saw on videos is unethical and in the spirit of Sikhism. “But I don’t want to comment on the incident until we find the substance of the matter. This is a very sensitive issue, ”he said.

This event threatens to cast a shadow over the heated political narrative in Punjab, which increasingly focuses on sacrilege and caste and the farmers’ protest against the Three Laws, the longest in recent state history. .

In Singhu on Friday. (Special photo: Amit Mehra)

Although the SKM quickly condemned the gruesome murder, it cannot wash its hands of the incident. As BJP State Secretary General Dr Subhash Sharma, while condemning the barbaric murder, said: “They have tolerated violence, whether against the BJP leaders in Punjab and Haryana, or during other farmers’ events. It is a natural corollary. The SKM cannot disassociate itself from the Nihangs, as they were part of the commotion.

Farmers’ unions had a very uncomfortable relationship with the Nihangs, with Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of BKU (Rajewal), urging them to return home when they joined the unrest in Singhu with their horses in January. “We will call you if necessary,” he said. Unofficially, some executives have said they could cause problems given their “particular way of life”.

Yet there is an attempt by a fringe to paint the Nihangs as the saviors of the holy book. The Nihangs claim that the alleged victim desecrated their “Sarbloh Granth”. The Nihang order that follows this granth says that while Guru Granth Sahib is the embodiment of Shaant Ras (essence of peace), the granths Dasam and Sarbloh are embodiments of Bir Ras (essence of war).

In the street, the ordinary voter is dismayed by the barbarity of the act. As Bhupinder Singh Baath, a student leader and AAP member, said, “There is no way to condone this action, no matter how provoked.”

But the social media fringe claims that this action by the Nihangs will have a chilling effect on desecration for all time to come. It is this polarity which is worrying, which has forced everyone, for the moment, to stay in the background. The way the law follows the course of the matter will be closely watched by all.