The Ambala District and Sessions Court on Monday sentenced controversial holy man and leader of a breakaway Sikh sect, Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara to three years in jail for hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs and sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. However, he was released on bail.
Besides, seven fellow accused in the case were found guilty of the charges. In all, 13 people had been arraigned in the case and they were present in the court when the verdict was pronounced.
According to the prosecution, Bhaniara had authored a book Bhav Sagar Samunder Amar Bani Granth describing his miracles, which offended the Sikhs, who alleged that the Baba was equating himself with the Sikh gurus.
Even as the issue kicked up a major row, an organisation called the Khalsa Action Committee headed by Charanjit Singh Channi disrupted a religious congregation organised by one of Bhaniara’s followers at Ludhiana in 2001 during which the protesters snatched and tore up copies of Bhavsagar Granth.
Bhaniara was arrested in October 2001 and his book was banned by the government. And the Dal Khalsa and several other Sikh organisations had called for an agitation and reportedly demolished Baba’s centre.
In 2003, a man named Gopal Singh attempted to stab Bhaniara, when he was in Ambala to appear in the court for his involvement in the burning of the Sikh scriptures. And Gurdeep Singh Rana, a member of the Babbar Khalsa, was arrested following an attempt on Bhaniara’s life in January 2005. In December, 2008 the Punjab government issued a notification imposing a blanket ban on Bhav Sagar Granth.