Angry mob beats man to death after ‘sacrilegious act’ with sword at holy temple

A man has been beaten to death after allegedly committing a “sacrilegious act” at a holy shrine.

The unnamed man's death was confirmed by police in the Indian city of Amritsar, who said it happened during a prayer service at the Golden Temple on Saturday.

According to local reports, the man broke into the “inner sanctum”, which is where Sikhism's holiest book, the Guru Granth is kept.

When he got into the area, he grabbed a ceremonial sword, which was placed next to the book, but was stopped by guards – and worshippers – before he was able to do anything with it.

It took place around 5.45pm local time (11.45am UK time), on Saturday, and was shown on television as evening prayers are usually broadcast live in the country.

Details on what happened next are scarce, but police confirmed that he was found dead once they arrived on the scene.

And investigation is underway to ascertain how he died.

It happened 24 hours before another man was allegedly beaten to death for attempting to remove a Sikh flag – called the Nishan Sahib – from a temple in nearby Kapurthala.

The two incidents prompted a stern warning from Punjab's state police.

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A spokesman tweeted: “Stern action will be taken against all those disturbing the law and order in Punjab after the unfortunate incidents in Amritsar and Kapurthala”.

It was also confirmed, in a later statement by Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi that police had been told the find out what the “underlying motives” behind the incidents were and to find “the real conspirators behind these dastardly acts”.

The incidents also drew anger from those in the Punjab parliamentary ranks, as Balwinder Bhunder, an MP for opposition party Akali Dal, told local news that the attacks were attempts “to weaken Punjab, which is the sword arm of India”.

He added: “Some people have made it a political game over the last five years.”

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