Sonepat/Amritsar, October 16
Three more persons were arrested on Saturday in connection with the lynching of a Dalit man at the farmers’ protest site at Singhu border, even as the victim’s family questioned the attackers’ claim that he had committed sacrilege and demanded a high-level probe into the episode.
Sarabjit Singh, arrested on Friday for the brutal killing of Lakhbir Singh, was produced before a Sonepat 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 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”.
Two more Nihang Sikhs — Govindpreet Singh and Bhagwant Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib — surrendered before the Kundli police in presence of Inspector Ravi Kumar, SHO Kundli, late on Saturday night in connection with the barbaric murder incident of Lakhbir Singh of Taran Taran district at Singhu border on Friday.
The police would produce the accused before the court on Sunday. Inspector Ravi Kumar said the accused have been taken into the custody.
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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.
The body of Lakhbir Singh, a labourer from Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, was found on Friday tied to a barricade at the Singhu border with a hand chopped off and multiple wounds caused by sharp-edged weapons.
Hours after the crime, Sarabjit Sigh, wearing the blue robes of the Nihang order, claimed that he had “punished” the victim for “desecrating” a Sikh holy book.
Questioning his claim, the victim’s wife Jaspreet Kaur and sister Raj Kaur said Lakhbir Singh “had a deep respect for the holy Guru Granth Sahib”.
“He was a god-fearing man who could never think of desecrating a holy book... Whenever he used to go to a Gurdwara, he would pray for the well-being of his family and the society,” said Jaspreet Kaur.
He had no criminal record and there was no report of him being a bad character, the victim’s family said and demanded a high-level probe into the entire episode to bring out the truth.
Jaspreet and Raj Kaur said even if it is assumed for a moment that Lakhbir had done something wrong, those who killed him in such a barbaric manner should have given him time to prove his innocence, or they could have handed him over to the police.
“At no stage could they be the deciding authority while running their own self-styled court which pronounced punishment and then murdered him inhumanly. Where does the law of land prevail here?” said his grieving sister.
His wife Jaspreet Kaur and three daughters aged 12, 11 and eight years live in a small temporary house made of mud and bricks at Cheema Kalan village, around 50 km away from the holy city of Amritsar. His son passed away two years ago.
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.
“Who will come forward to look after his family now and what about the future of his children..who will help them,” lamented his sister Raj Kaur.
Sonepat’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Virender Singh said the total number of accused in the crime could be more than five.
“We produced Sarabjit before the court. The accused has been remanded in seven days’ police custody by the court,” he said over the phone.
“The accused has pointed to the involvement of four more people in the case and taken their names...we are conducting further investigations in this regard. We have to make some recoveries from the arrested accused including the weapon used in the crime and the clothes he was wearing,” he said.
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.
Political parties across the board have condemned the incident and demanded a thorough probe.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Saturday said that the incident was extremely sad and shameful and demanded that the victim’s family be given compensation.
“The brutal murder of a Dalit youth from Punjab at Delhi’s Singhu border is extremely sad and shameful. The police must take the incident seriously and take strong action against the accused persons.
“The BSP demands that the Dalit chief minister of Punjab should give a financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh and a government job to the aggrieved family, as was done in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident,” Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.
The Congress had said it was the government’s responsibility to investigate the lynching, while the BJP asserted that anarchic elements are using farmers for their politics.
The saffron party on Saturday hit out the opposition party for not raising the issue at the Congress Working Committee meeting.
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia questioned if the opposition party stood with the “Talibani mindset” behind the killing.
“For the sake of petty and cheap vote bank politics, opposition parties, especially the Congress, will maintain a deafening silence on this key issue.
“They will not have the courage to call spade a spade because it does not suit their political narrative,” Bhatia said while also attacking farmer leader Rakesh Tikait for his reported remarks that organisers cannot be blamed for such an incident.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Friday asked the Haryana Police to take strict action against those behind the killing of the Dalit man at the farmers’ protest venue.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions is spearheading the protests, issued a statement on Friday distancing itself from the incident and said that it wanted to make it clear that “both the parties to the incident”, the Nihang group and the victim, have no relation with the Morcha. With PTI
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