Ruchika M Khanna
Bargari, February 12
It has been more than six years since the “Bir” of Guru Granth Sahib was stolen from this (till then) non-descript village of Burj Jawaharsinghwala and its “angs” were later strewn in Bargari, falling just 5 km off the Kotkapura-Bathinda highway.
Now, enveloped in the election colours of three main political parties — the Congress, AAP and SAD — the people of this village have clearly left behind the incident and are hoping for change.
“What happened is very painful, but one has to move on,” says 70-year-old Karamjit Kaur of Bargari. “When drug abuse is rampant and there is unemployment, does one have time to think of other things? My son has done his master’s and several other courses. But there are no jobs here and he works in the fields. My daughter, too, has done her post-graduation, but she is still on a contract job of schoolteacher. In this election, these are the issues,” she tells The Tribune.
Sukhpreet Kaur of Burj Jawaharsinghwala, whose husband Harbans Singh had been “falsely implicated” in the theft of the “Bir” and had died of shock after being allegedly subjected to torture during investigation, says: “The only solace we have is at least I have got a job in a factory in Kot Shamir and my young son, who was also tortured, is working at a petrol station nearby. We are making both ends meet. With elections around, some people are trying to rake up the issue again. They must realise we will not get closure till we move on.”
Village sarpanch’s brother Gobind Singh tells The Tribune the villagers have decided not to rake up the issue, especially as most of the dera ‘Premis’ in the village have embraced Sikhism, after the arrest of the dera chief in 2017. “We want to live peacefully and focus on bettering our lives,” adds Raja Singh, a cycle repair shop owner.
Ajit Singh Brar of Bargari and Hardeep Kaur, too, express similar sentiments. “We want to see our children get good education, a control on the open sale of drugs that is snuffing out the lives of the young; and, employment opportunities here. What happened in 2015 is in the past,” they say. The families of the two victims of police firing on those protesting against sacrilege then — Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjeet Singh Bittu Sarawan — at nearby Behbal Kalan village have been staging a dharna for the past 58 days in front of a memorial gate erected to the victims.
Sukhraj Singh, son of Krishan Bhagwan, and Sadhu Singh, father of Gurjeet Singh, tell The Tribune they are sick of the political spectacle that has been made of the incident. “More than six years on, the investigation is headed nowhere. Our kin were publically shot, but the charges have not even been framed. This dharna is to seek justice. Those responsible for sacrilege are out on furlough because it’s election time and parties want to milk it for votes,” they say.
However, some residents prefer not to be reminded of the incident. Resham Singh and Bangal Singh Dhillon, both elders in Behbal Kalan, say the incident occurred because of some miscreants. “Nobody in the village wants to rake it up. As politicians come to seek our support, we only hope for better education and health facilities here and employment for youth, so they do not have to go abroad. The youngsters here prefer a change, but the older generation wants to stick to the traditional parties, irrespective of the fact that these failed to give closure to the incidents of 2015,” they say.
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