A group of Nihangs have claimed responsibility for the lynching of a man, who was found with his hand chopped off and body bearing over 10 wounds caused by sharp-edged weapons, before he was tied to a barricade at a farmers' protest site at Kundli near the Delhi-Haryana border. Hours after the macabre crime, a man wearing the blue robes of the Sikhs' Nihang order appeared before the media, claiming that he had punished the victim for desecrating a holy book.
Earlier, in a video clip that surfaced on social media, some Nihangs are seen standing around the injured man with his severed left hand close to his head. The group is heard accusing him of desecrating a Sikh holy book.
The video shows the Nihang group asking the badly injured man, who is pleading with them in Punjabi, where he had come from and who sent him. One of the Nihangs says the man is a "Punjabi" and not an outsider, and it should not be made into a Hindu-Sikh issue. Another raises a religious chant. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions, said a group of Nihangs has claimed responsibility for the killing after the man allegedly tried to desecrate the Sarbloh Granth.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar held a meeting with Home Minister Anil Vij and senior police officers, directing strict action against those found guilty. The victim, Lakhbir Singh, was a labourer from Cheema Khurd village in Punjab's Tarn Taran and aged around 35 years, police said. Singh was found wearing only a pair of shorts. His hand was cut off at the wrist and a foot bore deep injuries. Altogether, there were over 10 injury marks inflicted by sharp-edged weapons. He was allegedly dragged by his assailants for a few metres before he was strung with ropes to the barricade. He is said to have bled to death.
Back in his Tarn Taran village, Singh's family was in shock and said he could never desecrate a holy book. Some villagers told reporters that his parents died a few years ago and his wife and three children stayed with some relatives. He was said to be staying with his sister.
The Nihangs are a Sikh order, distinguished by their blue robes and often seen carrying spears and swords. According to reports, the order was created around the time of Guru Gobind Singh and its practitioners obey the Khalsa code of conduct strictly. Last year, a Punjab policeman's hand was chopped off with a sword and his six colleagues injured in an attack allegedly by a group of Nihangs at a village market in Patiala when the accused were asked to produce curfew passes. The policeman's hand was later reattached after a surgery at the PGIMER in Chandigarh.
At least five video clips connected with the murder have surfaced on social media. In a statement, the SKM said 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. The peaceful and democratic movement of the farmers is opposed to violence in any form, it added. The SKM said it is against the desecration of any religious text or symbol, but that does 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 after investigating the allegation of murder and the "conspiracy" behind the "sacrilege".
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at three border points of Delhi for months, demanding a repeal of the three farm laws enacted by the Union government in September last year.
Meanwhile, around 15 Dalit outfits submitted a memorandum to the National Commission for Scheduled Caste on Saturday, October 16, demanding stringent action against those who killed Lakhbir Singh. As many as 15 Dalit outfits, which included the Akhil Bharatiya Khatik Samaj, Akhil Bharatiya Berwa Vikas Sangh, Dhanak Welfare Association and other organisations of Dalit employees and professionals submitted the memorandum to National Scheduled Caste Commission Chairman Vijay Sampla.
They urged the panel to ensure that this gory incident be fairly investigated and stringent punishment for culprits be ensured. Political parties across the board have condemned this incident and demanded a thorough probe. BJP leaders have claimed that this incident exposes the "anarchists" projecting themselves as farmers' leaders.
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. Sampla also sought a preliminary report from the Haryana Police within 24 hours.