An 11-year-old girl from the Indian state of Punjab was arrested on charges of “sacrilege” this weekend after several pages of a holy book were found torn inside a Sikh temple on Saturday.
According to The Times of India, the gurdwara‘s (temple) management filed a complaint with local police alleging that someone had torn the pages of the holy Shri Guru Granth Sahib inside the temple.
After receiving the report, a team of officers entered the gurdwara and found that seven pages of the scripture were torn. CCTV footage later showed an 11-year-old girl tampering with the documents.
Sangrur Superintendent of Police Sharnjit Singh explained that it appeared that the girl was trying to place a cloth around the book and may have unintentionally damaged it. Police have still decided to pursue the case given the strong religious sentiment involved.
“From the CCTV footage, it seems that she tried to settle Rumala Sahib over Guru Granth Sahib, but unintentionally damaged seven pages,” said the Superintendent. “We have registered a case under sections 295-A against the minor girl.”
The torn pages were first noticed by Granthi Manpreet Singh, a member of the gurdwara’s management committee, while he was conducting Saturday prayers. According to Singh, the girl had been visiting the shrine over the past month as part of her “sewa,” the Sikh term used to refer to a form of selfless service.
“On seeing the CCTV footage, we found that a young girl, who used to come to perform sewa at Gurdwara Sahib, committed this sacrilege,” he said.
Sikhism is the main religion of India’s Punjab region, where it was founded in the late 15th century by the traveler Guru Nanak. Despite its popularity in Punjab, it still remains one of India’s minority religions with around 20 million adherents in a population of more than 1.3 billion people. This places it behind Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, all of which together make up over 95 percent of the country’s religious demographics.