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Murder by Nihangs at Singhu border: Dalit organizations approach National Commission for Scheduled Castes, demand probe

As per the report published in Economic Times, the organizations have asked for a time-bound investigation into the matter. Furthermore, they have asked for punishment for all those who are involved in the murder of the Dalit Sikh at farmer protests’ site.

Over 21 Dalit organizations from across the country have approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and sought an extensive probe into the murder of a Dalit Sikh man at the Singhu border by Nihang Sikhs.

On the other hand, to save themselves from embarrassment, Sikh religious bodies have tried to tone down the Dalit atrocity narrative in the case, claiming Nihangs have a notable number of Dalits among them and it is not a caste issue.

In fact, Akal Takht and Shiromani Gurudwara, the two highest Sikh bodies, have alleged that the whole incident was part of a ‘conspiracy’.

Bhartiya Baudh Sangh, Rashtriya Bhantu Sansi Samaj Vikas Sangh, Shri Guru Ravidas Vishwa Mahapeeth (Delhi Province), Jai Baba Rama Peer Janmotsav Committee, National Scheduled Caste Alliance, Delhi Prantiya Raigar Panchayat, Valmiki Mahapanchayat, Shri Sant Kabir Janmotsav Committee, Akhil Bhartiya Bairwa Vikas Sangh, SC/ST/OBC & Minority Employees Welfare Association, Jangpura Bhogal SC/ST Resident Welfare Association and several others from Punjab, UP, Delhi and other states are among the organizations who have approached the NCSC.

As per the report published in Economic Times, the organizations have asked for a time-bound investigation into the matter. Furthermore, they have asked for punishment for all those who are involved in the murder of the Dalit Sikh at farmer protests’ site.

Vijay Sampla, chairperson, NCSC, condemned sacrilege or disrespect of the text and said it is a severe offence among Sikhs, but “no one has the right to take the law into his hands”. He added, “We’ve already sent a notice to DGP Haryana and the chief secretary to take strict action on it and asked for a return report via fax.”

Sikh leaders claim it is not a Dalit atrocity issue

Dr Gurmeet Singh Sidhu, professor-in-charge, Guru Gobind Singh Chair, at Punjabi University, Patiala, was quoted by ET in the case. He claimed that the killing of Lakhbir Singh had been wrongly portrayed as Dalit vs Sikh incident. Blaming BJP and Akalis for making it a Dalit-Sikh issue, he said, “This is not a Dalit issue, but it is being made out to be one by some political parties such as BJP and Akalis that have tied up with the BJP.

Sacrilege assumes higher importance in Sikhism because the Guru Granth Sahib is not just a book, but a living guru.” He further added, “There is a reason why Punjab has the highest proportion of Dalit population because the religion makes a sincere effort to take everyone along. Even the attackers of Lakhbir were Dalits.”

However, the case is different in Punjab for Dalits. Several reports and studies in the past have suggested that Dalits do not get proper representation in politics or any other sector. They do not own land in Punjab and often work as labourers in the fields of upper-caste or Jat Sikhs. When a Dalit Sikh was made CM of Punjab last month, it was seen as a “turning point” of Punjab politics as he was the first Dalit CM of the state.

While trying to whitewash the problem of the caste system in Sikhism, some experts pointed out that Giani Harpreet Singh (Dalit Sikh), the Jathedar of Akal Takht and Bibi Jagir Kaur (Backward Community), head of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, belong to the non-Jat Sikh background.

Giani Harpreet Singh blamed the Police and law enforcement agencies for the incident that led to the murder of Lakhbir Singh. He said that over 400 incidents of sacrilege or disrespect of Sikh religious texts have happened in the past five to six years, and the justice system failed to bring the accused to justice even in one case. “There was no case in which the justice system could give worthy punishment to the accused that would have provided some solace to the hurt feelings of Sikhs,” he added.

Bibi Jagir Kaur blamed the central government for not finding a solution for farmer protests and alleged the incident would not have happened if the Centre had been serious in resolving the issues with Agriculture laws.

Murder of Lakhbir Singh

On October 15 morning, it was reported that a dead body, identified as Lakhbir Singh, was found hanging on the Kundli border, one of the sites of farmer protests. Nihang Sikhs took responsibility for the killing and claimed, Lakhbir Singh, a Dalit Sikh had disrespected the Sikh Holy Text. They claimed that the “justice was served on the spot as per the Sikh rituals”. Three Nihang Sikhs have been arrested so far in the case.

It is noteworthy that Nihang Sikhs had barred Police from taking down the body. A large section of Sikhs has supported the action taken by Nihangs against Lakhbir Singh, claiming they would not tolerate disrespect of religious text.

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