Dera Sacha Sauda follower Mohinder Pal Singh Bittoo, who was the main accused in the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab’s Bargari in 2015, was murdered inside Nabha maximum security jail on Saturday evening. He was allegedly attacked by two Sikh inmates and rushed to hospital in a very serious condition, but was declared brought dead. Followers of the sect have now refused to cremate his body until the sacrilege charges against him are dropped.

An inquiry into the attack was ordered by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who also warned of strict punishment for the assailants. With suspension of the jail superintendent and the barrack-in-charge post the attack, Singh also ordered the beefing up of security in the state.

“People who are responsible for the killing have been arrested. FIR has been registered, further investigation will be done,” said Inspector General, Patiala range, AS Rai.

Bittoo, who belonged to Kotkapura town, was wanted in many cases including for violence in Haryana’s Panchkula town after the conviction of Ram Rahim Singh in 2017. He was arrested by a special investigation team from Himachal Pradesh’s Palampur town last year.

Kotkapura, in the Faridkot district, has a huge number of sect followers, who are now on the warpath.

Bittoo’s son Arminder Kumar, who met his father in the prison a few hours before his killing, said his father was innocent and falsely framed in the sacrilege cases.

“First he was farmed and now he was murdered in a conspiracy. There is no one who can give us justice,” he told reporters in Kotkapura, demanding a thorough probe into the crime.

Preliminary investigations said Bittoo was allegedly killed by murder convict Gursewak Singh and Maninder Singh, an under-trial in a murder case, with iron rods removed from a barricade.

AS Rai said both the attackers are baptised Sikhs. “They say they attacked Bittoo because he is the main accused in the Bargari case.”

The sacrilege case relates to the alleged desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Bargari village in Faridkot in October 2015. Following the crime, two people were killed and many others injured in Behbal Kalan village of the district on October 15, 2015, in police firing on protesters.