Life Term for Sacrilege? Punjab State Govt's Push for Stringent Law Amid Row Over Lynching

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Prison population - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.12.2021
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Over the weekend, two men were lynched in the Indian state of Punjab over alleged sacrilegious acts that occurred within 48 hours. Politicians cutting across party lines have condemned the reported acts of desecration.
The state government of Punjab has urged the federal government to get the president's nod on two bills to ensure that stringent punishment is meted out for acts of sacrilege.
In 2018, the Punjab State Assembly cleared two bills — the Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill and the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill. But these pieces of legislation await the president's signature.
The amendment recommends life imprisonment for anyone found desecrating Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagavad Gita, the Quran, or the Bible — the holy books of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians respectively — with the intention of hurting the religious feelings of people.
In a letter to federal Home Minister Amit Shah, Punjab Deputy State Chief Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Monday wrote that the "sacrilege of holy books is becoming a major issue in Punjab" and that "punishment of up to three years, is inadequate to deal with this situation".
The demand came a day after Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu demanded a "public hanging" for anyone committing such an objectionable act.
On Saturday, a 24-year-old man was beaten to death in Amritsar's Golden Temple (or, the Harminder Sahib) by a mob after he jumped into the sanctum sanctorum area of the Sikhs' holiest shrine in Punjab.
He allegedly picked up the golden sword kept in front of the sacred book of Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.
The next day, another man was beaten to death in the Kapurthala area of the state's Nijampur district. Locals claimed that they caught him "disrespecting" the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag).
Not just Punjab state's ruling party Congress, but other political parties as well — the main opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and former ruling outfit Shiromani Akali Dal have condemned the alleged acts of sacrilege.
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