Fight over gurdwara control on shrine premises turns ugly; 9 booked, 3 arrested

Saturday morning witnessed an ugly fight between two groups of gurdwara management on the premises of Nishan Sahib Gurdwara in German Colony of Faridkot in which three people were injured.

While CCTV camera captured the clash, many devotees too recorded it in their mobile phones which went viral on social media.
Police have registered an FIR against nine people and arrested three persons. Further investigation is on, said deputy superintendent of police Jasmeet Singh.

Many devotees had gathered at the gurdwara to pay obeisance in the morning on Saturday (the first day of month according to Sikh calendar). Saturday was the beginning of desi month ‘Assu’.

The incident took place when president of the gurdwara was addressing the audience on the premises of the shrine. Initially there was some argument among some people in the audience but soon it took an ugly turn in the form of a fight.

Nishan Sahib Gurdwara president Jaswant Singh said, “When I was addressing the audience, Harbans Singh, the former president of the gurdwara management, attacked me in front of the devotees.”

Information revealed that Harbans Singh and Jaswant Singh have been at loggerheads over some old issue and they had approached police in the past as well.
But what had hurt the devotees on Saturday is that in no time supporters of Jaswant Singh and Harbans Singh started fighting with each other, with utter disregard for the sanctity of the shrine. Soon the fight on the holy premises turned into a free-for-all – with kicks, blows and slaps in front of the Holy Bir of Guru Granth Sahib. Both the supporters got so carried away that they even used the ‘shastras’ (swords) placed before the ‘bir’ to attack each other, thus hurting the religious sentiments of the devotees. Turbans too were tossed in the clash which was caught in the CCTV camera.

Following the clash Prabhjeet Kaur, a woman devotee, and two more were admitted to hospital.

DSP Jasmeet Singh while talking to The Indian Express said, “An FIR has been registered against nine people by name and out of these, Harbans Singh Bhau, Joginder Singh and Thana Singh have been arrested. Investigation is on to arrest the remaining as well.”

The FIR was lodged on the complaint of 42-year-old Prabhjeet Kaur, a resident of German Colony. The nine people booked by name are: Thana Singh , Harbans Singh Bhau, Gurjant Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Amarjot Singh, Joginder Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Channa Bhau and Panjab Singh.

Sources said that some tussle regarding fund management has been going on between the two groups.

Condemning the incident, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Gurinder Kaur Bholuwala told reporters that SGPC should take notice of this incident in which religious sentiments of people have been hurt.

However, it may be noted that the gurdwara where the incident took place doesn’t come under the SGPC and it has a private gurdwara management of its own.

The charges in the FIR include injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class, assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty, wrongful restraint, rioting with deadly weapons, punishment for voluntarily causing hurt, and unlawful assembly of people.

It has been learnt that both Jaswant Singh and Harbans Singh have got their gurdwara management committees registered and are undergoing a court case over the issue of taking control over the gurdwara management.

Jaswant Singh has still one year left of his term as president.

Prabhjeet Kaur in her complaint stated that the incident took place soon after Jaswant Singh finished his address on organising ‘langar’ on the occasion of Baba Farid Aagman Purab, which will start from September 19. After his speech, Jaswant Singh took the stage for his speech, but one Thana Singh started arguing with Jaswant Singh. Then Jaswant Singh told Thana Singh that they should go outside the gurdwara and talk it out. But soon Harbans Singh and the persons mentioned above also joined and they started attacking the other group, the complainant stated.

“My husband Narinder Pal Singh was trying to pacify the people who were fighting when Harbans Singh picked a sword lying before the holy ‘bir’ and tried to attack him, but I got in the way. In the process, my left wrist got injured. In between, Amarjot Singh came and slapped me. In the melee, my clothes were also torn.

Joginder Singh attacked my husband, while Thana Singh picked an iron rod with which I got hurt. My husband was also beaten up mercilessly and he has got internal injuries,” according to the FIR.

Meanwhile, All India Sikh Students’ Federation president Daler Singh Dod met SSP Rajpal Singh and urged for strict action against both groups.
He said, “We are feeling ashamed after looking at such visuals. I had even sent an email to Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh asking him to intervene. His personal secretary Jaspal Singh responded immediately saying that a committee has been formed to investigate the matter and that the committee has already reached the spot.”

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