Last week, a group of Nihangs had brutally lynched a poor labourer named Lakhbir Singh to death. Lakhbir was brutally hacked with sharp weapons, beaten up, and one of his hands was chopped off. The Nihangs had posed with their weapons and had tortured Lakhbir while he begged for help.
Lakhbir was then tied up to a metal barricade and his chopped hand was tied beside him. His body was found early morning on October 15.
As per a report in Indian Express, the police investigation has revealed that Lakhbir, a poor labourer and allegedly an addict, was probably taken to the Singhu border protest site by a Nihang leader named Sarbjit Singh.
Sarbjit Singh was the first Nihang to be arrested by the police in the case. He was seen in the video footage of Lakhbir’s murder.
The Indian Express report stated that Sarbjit frequently visited Lakhbir’s village Cheema Kalan in Punjab Tarn Taran district. IE has quoted a top police official in Punjab as saying that Lakhbir was regularly in touch with Sarbjit Singh and it is possible that he was taken to the Singhu border protest site by Sarbjit Singh himself.
Sarbjit Singh was the first Nihang leader to be arrested by police after Lakhbir’s murder. He hails from Gurdaspur and had been ‘baptised’ as a Nihang in Hazoor Saheb at Nanded in 2017. Sarbjit had become a Nihang soon after his divorce in 2017, as per the report.
Punjab govt forms SIT
Though the murder case is under the Haryana Police, the Punjab government has formed an SIT to probe the claims of Lakhbir Singh being taken to the Singhu border. Many ‘farmer leaders’ had hinted at a conspiracy behind the alleged ‘blasphemy’ incident, claiming that Lakhbir may have been deliberately brought to the Singhu border.
Lakhbir Singh’s family had lodged a complaint, saying that he was ‘incapable’ of going to the Singhu border protest site from Punjab on his own, and he was taken there by some unknown people. The SIT will work under ADGP Varinder Kumar.
Soon after Lakhbir Singh’s murder, claims had surfaced that he was brought to the protest site with a promise of Rs 30,000. The Nihangs who had killed Lakhbir were seen in viral videos torturing a heavily bleeding and barely conscious Lakhbir, asking him whether he was paid.
It is notable here that a group of Nihangs had brutally lynched Lakhbir Singh over the allegations of ‘blasphemy’, for allegedly ‘disrespecting’ the Sikh holy book. Lakhbir was a poor Dalit man who worked as a labourer.
In another development, there are many allegations and counter-allegations floating among Nihang leaders about who is a ‘real’ Nihang and who is ‘fake’. Some reports have claimed that one Nihang leader named Baba Aman Singh had once met Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
Baba Aman Singh has now claimed that he was offered money to end the farmer protests. In a photograph, the Nihang leader is seen along with over a dozen people, meeting the minister. Aman Singh has also stated that the Nihangs are ‘fighting a religious war’ and demand justice for ‘blasphemy’ incidents. They are not sitting on Dharna for farmers, he added.
Aman Singh has also stated that on October 27, the Sangat will convene a meeting and then will decide whether to continue protests at the Singhu border or not.
Meanwhile, rather than the open barbarism and violence displayed by the Nihangs, the Punjab government seems more concerned with the internal politics of Nihang groups. Home Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhwa has reportedly spoken with Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh and has asked him to discuss with various Nihang leaders about real and fake Nihangs, including the claims over Baba Aman Singh.
4 Nihangs arrested so far
In the last week since Lakhbir Singh’s brutal murder, 4 Nihag Sikhs, namely Sarbjit Singh, Narain Singh, Bhagwant Singh and Govind Singh have been arrested over the incident. The murder accused, who were seen hailing and boasting over the helpless victim’s ravaged body, were cheered and adorned with garlands by the Sikh Nihangs while the police took them into custody.
Recently, the Nihangs had also declared that if the police arrests any more people, they will forcefully free the arrested persons. The Nihangs had also declared that they will continue killing over allegations of disrespect to their holy book.
It is notable here that victim Lakhbir Singh’s family had stated that he was a deeply religious person and it is totally unlikely that he would ever ‘disrespect’ the Guru Granth Sahib. They had stated that he was in touch with some unknown person and might have been taken to the protest site with the promise of money for doing labourer work.