INDIA

Sacrilege: Congress cautious on Sidhu’s endorsement of “public hanging’ of culprits

Sacrilege: Congress cautious on Sidhu’s endorsement of “public hanging’ of culprits, the vie

Congress leaders on Monday took a cautious approach to react to Punjab unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s endorsement of “public hanging” of culprits of sacrilege.

Party sources said the All India Congress Committee had decided not to participate in any television debate on the issue. Ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, due in early 2022, the issue is set to become a flash-point in the political arena. In 2015, after the incident of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village of Faridkot district, widespread spread protests were witnessed in the State and it remained a key political issue in the 2017 Assembly polls.

Also read: RSS condemns Golden Temple ‘sacrilege’ incident

To a question on Mr. Sidhu’s remark, former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar said sacrilege is a heinous crime, which reflects malicious intent and the serial nature of these incidents points towards a large conspiracy.

“I strongly believe the very idea of the sacrilege acts is to inflame passions and by reacting the way the perpetrator of these acts wants us to do, it would be falling in their trap. Restraint should be exercised, though it is difficult as one reacts instinctively. But for the sake of getting to the bottom of the motives, it is important to adopt restraint. Getting inflamed would be precisely what the perpetrator wants,” he told The Hindu.

Also read: Sacrilege case: Punjab Police SIT to question Dera Sacha Sauda chief

At a rally in Malerkotla on December 19, Mr. Sidhu said divisive forces are trying to disrupt peace and destroy the communal fabric of Punjab. Condemning the two recent incidents, Mr. Sidhu said those involved in any incident of sacrilege should be awarded the maximum punishment. He said larger powers were at play, who would do anything to poison society and de-stabilise Punjab.

“This is not an isolated incident. The Sikhs’ religious sentiments are deliberately hurt again and again. No self-respecting Sikh including me will tolerate these abominable acts. The Congress will ensure that a law is made according exemplary stringent punishment for sacrilege. We will uphold our brothers’ religious sentiments,” he said.

Mr. Sidhu said if any incident of sacrilege takes place, be it of the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran Sharif or the Guru Granth Sahib, the guilty should be publicly hanged. He said the culprits should be given the maximum punishment under the Constitution.

While hardly any reactions were seen from political parties on the ‘lynching’ episode, Congress’s national spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi tweeted saying, “Sacrilege is horrendous but lynching in a civilised country is no less horrendous. I request the authorities to take strict action against all who took law into their own hand & make an example out of them.”

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