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Punjab Desecration Row – Arrested youths innocent, say villagers, allege frame-up 

“The family has a clean past. We stand by them and hope they will come clean. It is unfortunate if they are really involved in the sacrilege incident,” said village sarpanch Baldev Singh. (HT Photo)

Alleging frame-up, residents of Panjgrain Khurad village in Moga district are not ready to buy the police theory that Jaswinder Singh and Rupinder Singh, both brothers, were involved in the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village in Faridkot district and were getting instructions and funding from handlers abroad. They were arrested on Tuesday.

Their house in the village, which has no gate, doors and windows, wore a deserted on Wednesday as the family left the village sensing trouble. However, nobody tried to damage the house as villages believe that both Jaswinder and Rupinder are innocent.

“The family is living in a wretched condition and runs a grocery store in the village. They only have a van and a motorcycle-driven trolley. The family has been living in the village for the past more than 50 years after it migrated from Surghuri village of Faridkot district. If they were involved in such activities for money, they would have lived a lavish life,” says Anjrej Singh, a neighbour.

“Besides the two brothers, the family includes Jaswinder’s wife, their parents and an unmarried sister. Two sisters are married and all in their family are baptised Sikhs,” added Anjrej.

“The family is involved in community welfare works. They help the sick, hold turban tying competitions and motivate village children and others to get baptised. We still do not believe that they are involved in the desecration incident,” said Kuldeep Singh, a resident of the village.

People sitting at a village common place also echoed similar views. “Nobody ever saw a suspicious person visiting the family. Rupinder is also a member of the satkar committee for Guru Granth Sahib. The government has implicated the brothers in a false case as they had joined the protest. They have a clean past,” said an elderly resident of the village.

“We will not buy the police theory till the stolen bir is recovered from their possession,” said another resident.

The police had rounded up four youths — Rupinder, Jaswinder, Gurlal Singh Rinka and Amandeep Singh — from the village on the intervening night of October 16 and 17. Gurlal and Amandeep were handed over to the village panchayat on Wednesday.

“The family has a clean past. We stand by them and hope they will come clean. It is unfortunate if they are really involved in the sacrilege incident,” said village sarpanch Baldev Singh.

Remanded in police custody 

The court of judicial magistrate first class Shaveta Das on Wednesday remanded Rupinder and Jaswinder in six-day police custody. The police had sought a 14-day remand to probe the sacrilege incident at Bargari village. After the incident on October 12, the police had registered a case against the unidentified persons under Sections 295-A and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).


Villagers in disbelief as Faridkot brothers sent to police remand

Villagers in disbelief as Faridkot brothers sent to police remand
SAD (Muktsar) president Dyal Singh Kolianwali with others attending the Akhand Paath bhog ceremony in Muktsar on Wednesday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service
Faridkot, October 21
A day after two brothers from Panjgrain village in Faridkot were arrested for the Bargari sacrilege, the area residents on Wednesday said it was hard to believe that the duo were behind the act.The October 12 incident had triggered unrest across Punjab.The villagers said Rupinder and Jaswinder Singh, who were arrested for their alleged involvment in the sacrilege, were from a devout baptised family. One of the two had suffered a back problem since the past several years.


Villagers claimed the brothers had been in the forefront of protests since a holy book ‘bir’ was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village on June 1.A local court remanded Rupinder and Jaswinder in police custody until October 26 on Wednesday.

Whereabouts of two other suspects — Amanderp Singh and Gurlal Singh — remain unknown.Meanwhile, police detained two MLA brothers from Ludhiana Simrajit Bains and Balwinder Singh in Ludhiana when they were proceeding to Chandigarh to gherao the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.While Simarjit was detained at Katanikalan, his brother Balwinder was detained at Vardhman chowk. Along with them, 21 of their supporters were also detained.Paramilitary forces have been deployed in four districts -Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Tarn Taran.

A report from Phagwara said several Sikh activists blocked Phagwara-Banga-Nawanshahar road near Mehlimudhali village, causing inconvenience to commuters.In Amritsar, protesters blocked a road at Amritsar-Jalandhar bypass and Harike in Tarn Taran, demanding action against those who indulged in the sacrilege.Some persons also blackened the poster of SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar at Lahorigate.In Muktsar, the activists were forcibly lifted from Kheowali village on Malout-Badal road at 4 am today.  Protests continued at a few locations in Moga and the Moga-Ludhiana national highway was blocked at Ajitwal village.


Murder case registered on deaths of two protesters in police firingPolice have registered a murder case in connection with the deaths of two persons who were killed in a police firing during the ongoing protest against desecration of ‘bir’ of Guru Grant Sahib.Police’s action came on state government’s direction. The FIR, however, does not name officers responsible for the incident.  A copy of the FIR could not be accessed immediately. Faridkot Senior Superintendent of Police SS Mann also declined to provide details of the contents of the FIR.


Arrested youths innocent, say villagers

With villagers backing the accused, questions are being raised over the police probe | Prayer meetings held

Arrested youths innocent, say villagers
Villagers raise their hands in support of the arrested brothers at a gurdwara in Panjgrain Khurd village on Wednesday. a tribune photograph

Tribune News Service

Moga, October 21

Claiming that the two brothers — Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh — arrested by the police on the charge of sacrilege of the ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargarhi village (Faridkot district) were innocent, the residents of Panjgrain Khurd — the native village of these youths — in Moga district have demanded a CBI inquiry into the allegations levelled against them.Local SAD leader and block samiti member Gurmeet Singh, Nambardar Atma Singh, panch Dilbagh Singh, many former sarpanches and panches and residents of Panjgrain Khurd village gathered on the premises of the local gurdwara and discussed the arrest of the brothers, who have been baptised Sikhs for the past many years.Gurmeet Singh said that the arrested youths and their family members, belonging to the Arora Sikh community, were adherents of Sikhism.

It was hard to believe that the sacrilege, as claimed by the police, was committed by them.Baldev Singh, sarpanch of the village, was not present at the gathering. He had reportedly gone to Faridkot to meet the youths in police custody. The gathering claimed that the sarpanch was also in favour of a CBI inquiry.Atma Singh said that the police seemed to have ‘concocted’ the story of the involvement of Rupinder and Jaswinder.

The people vowed to stand by the youths and pursue their case.Meanwhile, SGPC member Jagtar Singh Rode, who is leading the protests in Baghapurana sub-division, has demanded the release of the baptised Sikh youths arrested by the police, terming them as innocent.

President of AISSF Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad, while demanding the handing over of the investigation to the CBI, said that innocent people should not be made scapegoats. The real culprits must be arrested and action taken as per law.

Sent to police custody

Faridkot: A day after two brothers from Panjgrain Khurd village were arrested, the court of Judicial Magistrate, Ist Class (JMIC), Faridkot, sent them to police custody till October 26.The Bajakhana police produced Jaswinder and Rupinder Singh in the court of JMIC Shewta Dass at 6.30 am today.

The move to produce the accused in court so early in the day was intended to prevent any protest against their arrest.The residents of Panjgrain Khurd and adjoining villages are not buying the police theory that Jaswinder Singh (24) and his younger brother Rupinder Singh (22), who are baptised Sikhs, had committed the sacrilege.A large number of residents of Panjgrain village today assembled in the village gurdwara and were unanimous in their opinion that the youths were being made scapegoats to defuse the tension in the state.Villagers claimed the brothers had been in the forefront of the protests since a ‘bir’ was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village on June 1.

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