Tension as man’s body found at farmer protest site at Singhu

A Nihang Sikh surrenders for murder over alleged desecration of holy book.

October 15, 2021 11:59 am | Updated October 16, 2021 09:23 am IST - GURUGRAM/NEW DELHI

The spot at Singhu border where a mutilated body of a man was found.

The spot at Singhu border where a mutilated body of a man was found.

Tension gripped the farmers’ protest site at the Singhu border in Haryana’s Sonipat on Friday after a man, in his early 30s, was found brutally murdered.

One Sarabjit, a Nihang Sikh, surrendered late in the evening taking responsibility for the murder.

Virender Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Law and Order, Sonipat, told The Hindu that his claims were being verified. “He will be formally arrested if his involvement in the murder is established,” said Mr. Singh.

Earlier, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the front of farmer organisations jointly fighting against the Centre’s farm laws, distanced itself from the incident saying both the parties to the matter — the Nihang group and the deceased person, Lakhbir Singh — had no relations with it.

Though the police refused to comment on the possible motive for the murder, one of the videos of the incident on social media platforms featured a group of Nihang Sikhs standing over the victim writhing in pain and the people around talking about an alleged desecration of a Sikh holy book.

Tied to barricade

Lakhbir, a resident of Punjab’s Tarn Taran, was found dead, tied to the barricade with his left wrist and a foot partially severed, when a local police team reached the spot around 5 a.m. on Friday. The Kundli police station had received information that “the Nihangs had tied a person to a barricade,” said a Haryana police spokesperson. The large number of Nihang Sikhs present at the spot did not initially allow the police to remove the body and were also not forthcoming with information about the incident, said the FIR. The body was later shifted to the Civil Hospital for post-mortem.

Inspector General of Police, Rohtak Range, Sandeep Khirwar, told The Hindu that there were several claims and counterclaims with regard to the involvement of a certain religious group, but he could not confirm anything as of now. “The matter is under investigation. The police will go by the evidence. We are trying to get hold of a few suspects and the sequence of events would become clear after they are questioned,” said Mr. Khirwar. He added that the deceased had injuries inflicted with a sharp-edged weapon and the death was probably due to “loss of blood and shock”.

Book culprits: SKM

Condemning the murder, the SKM said it was against sacrilege of any religious text or symbol, but that did not give anyone the right to take the law into their own hands. It demanded that the culprits be punished in accordance with the law.

Although Nihang warriors have frequently been seen around the Singhu main stage area, farm leaders said they had no official role and had never been a part of the meetings or decision-making of the movement. “You must understand that this is not a kisan group. The Nihangs are a religious group, not a farmers’ union. They have a separate camp, and the incident has happened within their own camp,” said All-India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah. He also warned against attempts to link the murder to the SKM, calling it a “conspiracy”.

Agitating farmers and Nihangs at the protest site expressed shock, but there was also a sense of anger over the alleged act of sacrilege committed by the victim.

Bhagwant Singh, a Nihang, claimed it was not possible to identify who killed the man as everyone was angry and he was killed in the heat of the moment. The protesters, however, said they were ready to co-operate with the police in the investigation.

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