The nirankari congregation at Adliwal village outside Amritsar was at its peak given that it was a particularly pleasant Sunday morning on November 18. Then, just before noon, two young men, cotton scarves masking their faces, rode up on a motorcycle. One pointed a pistol at the two women volunteers on security duty at the gate of the satsang bhavan (prayer hall), while the second, who had been riding pillion, rushed inside and lobbed a grenade. The deafening explosion indoors killed three worshippers. Some 21 others sustained shrapnel injuries.
Police said Nirankari congregations, which have been off most terrorist hit lists since the late 1980s, was a deliberately selected ‘soft target’.
While the Punjab police moved swiftly and have already arrested one attacker, Bikramjit Singh, and identified the second as Avtar Singh, the bombing in Amritsar comes in the wake of a rather chilling warning by India’s army chief, Bipin Rawat. At a gathering of army officers and senior civil servants in New Delhi on November 3, he said that attempts were being made to revive the insurgency in Punjab. “We can’t close our eyes to what is happening in Punjab. If we do not take early action now, it will be too late,” he said. Clearly on to something, Rawat reiterated his warning two days later while addressing the annual founders’ day function at the Punjab Public School in Nabha. Acknowledging the possibility of a terror strike