What sparked the current unrest in Punjab

What sparked the current unrest in Punjab

As many as 112 torn pages of the Guru Granth Sahib were found in Bargari village on October 12 which triggered widespread protests across the state. Let’s see what sparked the unrest.

Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi (Gurmukhi): ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ, pronounced [ɡʊɾu ɡɾəntʰ sɑhɪb]) is the central religious text of Sikhism, considered by Sikhs to be the final, sovereign guru among the lineage of 10 Sikh Gurus of the religion. It is a voluminous text of 1430 Angs (pages), compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus from 1469 to 1708 and is a collection of hymns (Shabad) or Baani describing the qualities of God and the necessity for meditation on God’s nām (holy name).

What triggered the unrest
The Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, was stolen from a gurdwara in Burj Jawahar Ke village in Faridkot on June 1. In the third week of September, provocative posters against Sikhs appeared in Bargari village nearby. On October 12, several torn pages of the book were found scattered in Bargari. That evening Sikhs started protesting at Kotkapura town, around 15 km from Bargari, demanding that those behind the desecrations be arrested. While Sikhs insist that the torn pages belong to the stolen book, the police is yet to confirm that.

Road blocks
On June 14, in a village called Behbal Kalan, near Kotkapura, police cane-charged protesters blocking a road. During the clash, police opened fire killing two protesters, both Sikhs, and injuring several others. From October 15, protests spread across the state with roadblocks being set up on numerous roads and highways. On October 20, there were more than 160 roadblocks in the state. Until Wednesday, that number had dropped to around 60. This is the first time in more than three decades that a desecration has led to state-wide protests.

Many cases of desecration
After protests in Bargari village, six more incidents of desecration were reported from Sangrur, Ferozepur, Amritsar (rural), Taran, Ludhiana and Bathinda districts. So far, seven people have been arrested in five cases. Two cases are yet to be investigated. Sikh organizations have blamed followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda of being behind the desecrations. They feel that Dera followers were emboldened after their chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was pardoned by the Akal Takht, for his alleged blasphemy in 2007. Both the police and the Dera have consistently denied any involvement in fomenting trouble.