New Delhi: Day after the mutilated body of a Dalit labourer was found tied to a police barricade near Singhu border, Haryana Police detained two more Nihangs on Saturday night. Earlier, two other members of the Sikhs’ Nihang order, Sarabjit Singh and Narain Singh, had been arrested by the police. The gruseome killing, in which the hands and legs of the man were chopped off, had taken place at the farmers’ protest site near the Singhu border.
The deceased was identified as Lakhbir Singh, resident of village Cheema Khurd in Tarn Taran district of Punjab. About 35-36 years of age, Lakhbir used to work as a labourer and had no criminal record or affiliation with any political party, informed the police.
The victim’s family has questioned the attackers’ claim that he had committed sacrilege and demanded a high-level probe into the episode. Questioning the claim, the victim’s wife Jaspreet Kaur and sister Raj Kaur said Lakhbir Singh “had a deep respect for the holy Guru Granth Sahib”. The family was barely managing two square meals a day when Lakhbir was alive and would work in the village fields or in the grain market of Tarn Taran district for his livelihood.
The mortal remains of Lakhbir Singh were cremated at his native village in Punjab’s Tarn Taran amid tight security in the presence of his close family members. No Sikh priest was present to perform Ardas (Sikh religious prayer) and no one from his village Cheema Kalan attended the last rites.
Sarabjit Singh, arrested on Friday for the brutal killing, was produced before a Sonipat court in Haryana and remanded in police custody for seven days. Hours later, Narain Singh was also arrested by the Amritsar Rural police at Amarkot village near Jandiala Guru in Amritsar district, police said. Narain Singh, however, claimed that he had informed the police that he was surrendering.
Talking to the media before his arrest, Narain Singh was unrepentant and said that Lakhbir Singh had been “punished for sacrilege”. He said that the accused in the Bargari sacrilege incident in Punjab were yet to be arrested, but now if somebody will commit “such a heinous crime he would be punished on the spot”.
Narain Singh was given a robe of honour and a garland of currency notes by some people when he paid obeisance in the Amarkot Gurdwara before his arrest.
According to police, Sarabjit Singh has claimed the involvement of a few more people in the gruesome killing, which has sparked outrage and has triggered calls for action to clear the protest sites on Delhi’s borders where farmers have been camping since last November to press for the scrapping of the Centre’s three agri laws.
Farmer union leaders, however, asserted that the incident will have no impact on the agitation and said they will upgrade security by installing CCTV cameras and increasing the number of volunteers at the protest sites.
Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge to find out “actual cause” of the incident and alleged it was an attempts to sabotage the farmers’ agitation.
Randhawa, who also holds the Home Department portfolio, in an official statement, said that “this is a very sensitive issue, which is related to the religious beliefs of the people and associated with the farmers who had been peacefully protesting from almost a year against the draconian farm laws of the central government”.
Earlier on Friday, in a video clip that surfaced on social media, some Nihangs were seen standing around the victim with his severed left hand close to his head. The group was heard accusing him of desecrating a Sikh holy book.
A case of murder was registered at the Kundli police station in Sonipat in connection with the lynching incident.
Around 15 Dalit outfits submitted a memorandum to the National Commission for Scheduled Caste Chairman Vijay Sampla on Saturday demanding stringent action against the culprits. These included the Akhil Bharatiya Khatik Samaj, Akhil Bharatiya Berwa Vikas Sangh, Dhanak Welfare Association and other organisations of Dalit employees and professionals.
(With PTI and ANI inputs)