An appalling video of an elderly woman from Bihar being brutally thrashed by two Sikh men for allegedly taking out a cigarette within the premises of Amritsar’s Golden Temple complex surfaced on social media recently and went viral instantly. Shocked netizens condemned the reprehensible act by the men who were alleged to be members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). The assaulters claim that the elderly woman in a red saree was caught ‘smoking bidis’ at the Golden temple, hence, was committing beadbi (sacrilege).
However, in the video, the woman repeatedly denied the allegations levelled by the Sikh men. Sitting next to her, the woman’s daughter pleaded with the men to let go of her mother. A child was also sitting next to the elderly woman. But the men kept tormenting the woman and coercing her into admitting that she was smoking.
Despite her repeated clarification that she had not smoked any bidis, the men slapped her with full force. “You are smoking bidi here at the Sachkhand Sri Harimander Sahib,” asserted one of the assaulters demanding that she should be “sent to number 50 (room).”
Another man in the video said, “Don’t make grievous injuries, but teach her a lesson.” Later, the case reached the police. A senior police official, upon investigation, reported that there was no proof that the woman from Bihar was smoking at the gurdwara premises. “Those who produced the woman to the police could not show any cigarette, and even in the video, there is no proof of her smoking any cigarette. Thrashing her was inhumane,” added the official.
When quizzed if they took any action against the Sikh men who had struck the woman at the Golden Temple, the police responded that they had not taken action against the men as they had not received any complaint. A video of a woman being brutally slapped is visible for all to see, and police couldn’t take suo motu cognisance?
SGPC general secretary Karnail Singh Panjoli weighed in on the incident, stating that it occurred at around midnight on Tuesday, (March 15) and that the men who had beaten the Bihar woman were not SGPC employees, but ‘just devotees’. “The woman was, later on, handed over to the local police, but no written complaint was given. Even the cigarettes recovered from the woman were thrown in the sewers,” he says in defense.
Sikh extremism at display
Regardless of the claims and clarifications provided by the general secretary, the high-handedness exhibited by Sikh supremacists has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Instances of violence under the guise of retaliation to beadbi have been rampant. These are not limited to just battering hapless people but also lynching them to death like we saw with the way Lakbhir Singh was amputated and strung up to die at Singhu border.
One of the most vicious of the recent attacks by Sikh extremists in the name of sacrilege was the killing of a mentally challenged vagabond who had gone in a gurdwara in Kapurthala to get some food. One of the sewadars spotted him in the premises and held the poor boy hostage, attacking him with sharp weapons and conducting a Facebook live to gather a large crowd as the victim lay bleeding to death. Autopsy of the victim revealed that he had suffered around 30 sword cuts. Though the police found no evidence of sacrilege attempts by the deceased, as alleged by the gurdwara officials, the Punjab police remained reluctant to register an FIR against those who had killed the poor, hungry boy. The gurudwara caretaker Amarjit Singh was arrested but released soon after to ‘avert a law & order situation’. It is believed that the deceased boy’s name is Ankit Kumar, although there has not been any official confirmation.
While Sikh supremacists and separatists like Khalsa Aid founder Ravi Singh brag on social media about feeding people in langars, it was shocking to see a Sikh extremist butcher a hungry man for only a chapatti.
As for the Hindu man lynched in the Golden Temple last year for jumping over a barrier and rushing towards the inner sanctum, we still don’t know his name and no action has been taken against the mob, suspected to be SGPC members, who lynched him!
Is it safe for Hindus to visit Gurdwaras?
Sikh extremism is seeing an upsurge in Punjab and its environs; with AAP coming to power in the state, the Khalistani movement is bound to get a fillip. Hindus are most likely to bear the brunt of Sikh extremism and separatist upsurge. Also, as evidenced through various incidents in the past, a Hindu killed by a member of the minority community doesn’t affect Bharat’s Nehruvian secularism. How safe is it for Hindus to visit Sikh gurdwaras in light of recent developments? Hindus may just get assaulted by Sikh supremacists or separatists in the guise of sacrilege, and the police may not even register a case.
There is no dearth of Hindu temples in the country; many also offer Prasad and bhandara (free meals) to devotees. Hindus should visit only Hindu temples in these troubled times when Hinduphobia and minority radicalism are at their peak.
Where are the feminists?
Again, referring to the Bihar elderly woman who Sikh men thrashed for “smoking” in the Golden temple, we must highlight that not a single feminist from Bollywood or the world of activism came in her support. Where is the “It’s her choice” fame self-proclaimed feminist Neha Dhupia? Where is feminist champion Taapsee Pannu? Being Sikh women, feminists at that, they should have shown the courage to face the woman-assaulters from her community. Looks like all that courage rises to the surface only while ridiculing the Ram Mandir verdict.
The entire ilk of these phoney feminists paraded to end an unique tradition at the Sabarimala Temple to further their anti-Hindu agenda-driven “women empowerment.” They have now crawled back into their rabbit holes seeing the extremists of their own community physically attack a woman inside the holiest of Sikh shrines.