Chandigarh: Baba Aman Singh, the Nihang Sikh whom Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar presented with a Siropa, a Sikh robe of honour, is not only a proclaimed offender in an attempt to murder case for an attack on a war hero, but is also an accused in a drug haul FIR.
According to documents accessed by ThePrint, Baba Aman alias Amna was arrested in 2017 along with four others for a murderous attack on Brigadier Joginder Singh Jaswal (retd), 75, following a property dispute. Brigadier Jaswal was decorated with a Veer Chakra and a Sena Medal for his role in the 1971 India-Pakistan War.
Baba Aman jumped bail twice during the course of the trial and was declared a proclaimed offender by a Jalandhar court in July 2018.
According to the FIR, the Nihang Sikh, along with four others, allegedly attacked Brigadier Jaswal while he was on his way home in Jalandhar on 30 May 2017. The assailants attacked him with sharp-edged weapons and rods, and left him bleeding on the road. Brigadier Jaswal suffered grievous wounds, including multiple fractures, but survived the attack.
Jalandhar DCP (crime) Jaskaran Singh Teja said they are gathering information about Baba Aman. “We are in the process of verifying all the facts about the Baba Aman at the Singhu border. Once this exercise is complete, follow-up action will be initiated,” he told ThePrint Saturday.
Baba Aman is also accused in a major drug haul operation carried out by the Barnala Police in January 2018, in which over 900 kg of ganja was recovered from five bags in a truck. While five persons were arrested from the spot, Baba Aman and two others were nominated in the case later. He was declared a proclaimed offender in this case as well in 2018 but joined the investigation last year after obtaining bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“While the challan against the other arrested accused has been given in the court, a challan against Baba Aman is being prepared and will be submitted to the court at the earliest,” Alka Meena, SSP Barnala, told ThePrint Saturday.
The Nihang with the minister
Baba Aman had added a layer of intrigue to the discourse around the Nihangs following the brutal murder of a Dalit, Lakhbir Singh, at the Singhu border, where farmers are protesting against the Modi government’s farm laws.
One of the main accused in Lakhbir’s murder, Sarabjit Singh, is a member of Baba Aman’s Nihang sect, and was arrested by the Haryana Police last week. Baba Aman too is under the scanner of the Haryana Police for Lakhbir’s killing but is yet to be called for questioning.
If that wasn’t enough, a photograph surfaced, in which Baba Aman is seen with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in July.
In the same picture is Gurmeet Singh Pinky, a former Punjab policeman who was convicted for murder but has completed his sentence.
While sources said Baba Aman met Tomar as part of an unofficial delegation led by BJP leader Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal to help resolve the ongoing farmers agitation stalemate, the Nihang Sikh later claimed that he had met Tomar to seek justice for the sacrilege cases in Punjab.
Since his photograph with Tomar became public, Baba Aman has been alleging that he was asked by the BJP leaders to leave Singhu and also offered money for their horses that have died at the Singhu protest site.
But he isn’t free of controversy even at the protest site. On Thursday, a majority of the nine Nihang jathas, or groups, stationed at Singhu boycotted Baba Aman Singh after one of his jatha members, Navin Sandhu, allegedly beat up a Bihari labourer after the latter refused to give him a chicken for free. In the ruckus that followed the incident, Baba Aman said Sandhu was a new entrant into the jatha and he did not have anything to do with the incident.
“First he brought a bad name to all the Nihang Sikhs at the Singhu border in going and meeting the BJP leaders. He did not consult anyone here nor did he tell us what he was up to. Now he is having all sorts of unverified persons in his jatha. We have decided to boycott him,” said Nihang Raja Raj Singh at the Singhu border Thursday.
ThePrint made repeated attempts to contact Baba Aman over telephone but there was no response. A message sent to him also did not elicit any response.
An email was sent Friday to Union Minister Tomar’s private secretary Mukesh Kumar for his version of the photograph with Baba Aman, but there was no response till the time of publishing this report. When contacted over phone about the photograph Friday, Avishek, personal secretary to Tomar, said he will get back but no response was received until the time of publishing this report.
Who is Baba Aman?
Baba Aman claims to be the head of group of Nihangs called the Shahid Pyaare Himmat Singh, Chamkaur Sahib, but the other Nihangs at the Singhu border say that he is only a “sewadaar” of Baba Maan Singh of the Budha Dal.
They added that Baba Maan Singh is visiting Hazur Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra, and so in his absence, Baba Aman is looking after the Budha Dal.
Baba Aman, who is around 32 to 33 years old, is a resident of Babbanpur village in Sangrur. His parents — father Gian Singh and mother Karamjit Kaur — are poor labourers. His father is suffering from cancer.
His parents told the media Thursday that Baba Aman has not come to see them for many years now and they had disowned him some years ago because they were being constantly questioned by the police about his whereabouts.
According to the information gathered from the Punjab Police, Baba Aman studied primary classes in the village school. He has one brother and two sisters.
After school, he started working with his father and brother in installing tubewells in the village fields. He became an amrit dhari Sikh (baptised) when he was 20 years old and left home to join the Budha Dal group of Nihangs.
Police records on him added that in 2018, he allegedly tried to grab a vacant waste land in Dhuri but was removed from the spot as the land belonged to the forest department. Sources in the police said he is a regular visitor to the Shri Zohra Sahib Gurdwara in Chamkaur Sahib to meet the caretaker Gurnam Singh whom he calls “bapu”. Police claimed that Baba Aman hopes to take over this gurdwara after Gurnam Singh.
Brigadier left to die
Of the two cases against Baba Aman, it is the one in which he allegedly attacked Brigadier Jaswal that he faces far more serious charges.
The retired brigadier told ThePrint that the trouble began after his two-storey property had been illegally occupied by one Sewa Singh, who was asked to leave in 2017 after a court battle.
“The first floor was vacated on 19 May but in connivance with the then SHO, Sewa Singh managed to get more time to vacate the rest of the property,” Brigadier Jaswal said.
“Sewa Singh and Amna (Baba Aman) had a gang that used to do these kinds of activities. I had asked for police protection to ensure the property is vacated. The date scheduled for the complete vacation was 30 May,” he added.
“However, that day early in the morning I was returning on my motorcycle from my farmhouse to my house in Punjab enclave. I was barely 150 m from my house when Sewa Singh along with Amna and five others rammed their car into my bike and I fell down,” he claimed.
“They came out of the car with weapons and attacked me. My son saw the attack and came running but two of them held him so that they could not help me. Amna was carrying a sword and Sewa Singh a datari (an agricultural implement used to harvest crops) and another was carrying a rod. I was left to die. My son rushed me to the hospital and I survived.
“I had no option but to survive. I am a three-time battle wounds survivor. It will not be easy to kill me,” Jaiswal said. “Even when these five people were showering me with blows and cuts, I did not let out a single cry.”
Jaswal was wounded twice in the 1971 war and once in 2000 in the Kashmir Valley as Brigade commander. As second lieutenant in the 1971 war, he faced a machine gun burst while serving in the Amritsar sector and was wounded in the neck. Despite his injuries, he brought back a wounded naik with him.
“In the same operation, I was also injured looking for minefields and when while clearing a mine a blast hit me injuring my body and eyes,” he recalled.
The brigadier now hopes that the police will act as they know his whereabouts. “I hope the police will now be able to nab Baba Aman since he had surfaced at the Singhu border.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)