Chandigarh: The Punjab government Wednesday instituted an inquiry into allegations that Lakhbir Singh, the Dalit who was murdered allegedly by Nihangs at the Singhu border, was “lured” to the area, even as a video surfaced of the Tarn Taran resident being interrogated by the men who allegedly killed him.
The state government has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the chairmanship of ADGP-cum-Director, Bureau of Investigation, Varinder Kumar. The SIT will probe a complaint by Lakhbir’s sister Raj Kaur that he was taken to the Singhu border, the site of the farmers’ agitation, by unknown people.
Ever since his brutal murder allegedly by Nihangs on charges of sacrilege of their holy book, the Sarbloh Granth, Lakhbir’s family has maintained that he was “incapable” of going to the Singhu border on his own. According to his family, he was estranged from his wife who lived in a nearby village with their three daughters.
The chain of events leading to his death have been pieced together through the video clips recorded on their mobile phones by the Nihangs. Lakhbir was found with his hand and foot chopped off, hanging by a rope from a police barricade at the Singhu border protest site
The latest video, which surfaced Wednesday, shows Lakhbir tied up and being interrogated by the Nihangs. He is shown “admitting” to having been promised Rs 30,000, and provides the mobile number of another person allegedly involved.
The video, which appears to have been clipped, does not mention what Lakhbir was promised Rs 30,000 for.
Pictures emerge of Nihangs with union minister
An English daily Monday published pictures of Nihang Baba Aman Singh with Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar from a meeting that the paper claimed was held sometime in July or August this year. The meeting was part of the efforts being made to end the farm protests.
One of the accused in Lakhbir’s killing, Sarabjit Singh, belongs to the dera headed by Baba Aman Singh.
Baba Aman Singh has been openly supporting Sarabjit, calling the murder an “act of bravery” and justifying the barbaric killing.
BJP leader Sukhminder Singh Grewal is also seen in the pictures that went viral. In one picture, Tomar is honoring Baba Aman Singh with a siropa.
Controversial former cop Gurmeet Singh Pinky, who was convicted for murder in 2001 and has completed his sentence, is also seen with the Baba in the pictures of the meeting.
The Congress is now questioning in what capacity a Nihang had met the union minister.
“In view of the recent disclosures about one of the Nihang leaders having already been in touch with the Government of India, Minister for Agriculture N.S. Tomar in particular, the lynching incident has now taken an entirely different turn. The same Nihang leader is now defending the main accused for the killing of Lakhbir Singh,” Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“In view of the recent photographic evidence available, the Nihang leader will also need to explain as in what capacity he had met the Union Agriculture Minister N.S. Tomar and whether he was mandated to do so by the farmers’ organisations spearheading the campaign against three black farm laws,” Randhawa added.
In a statement, former Congress chief Sunil Jakhar Tuesday said the incidents of recent months point towards a concerted bid to paint the farmers’ struggle as one of a particular community and create divisions between Sikhs and Nihangs.
“The presence of a former police CAT Pinky highlighted in pictures of meetings of Union Agriculture Minister, and the subsequent events at Singhu clearly point to the fact that Centre wants to foment religious strife in Punjab,” he said.
A Punjabi saying,
ਭੈੜੇ ਭੈੜੇ ਯਾਰ ਸਾਡੀ ਫੱਤੋ ਦੇ
Can be loosely translated as
“Man is known by the company he keeps”.
Modi govt dealing through shady characters!Thus,the proclaimed nationalists are not just demeaning themselves but also the institution of 'Government of India' pic.twitter.com/7lGQyTbXhv
— Sunil Jakhar (@sunilkjakhar) October 19, 2021
‘Met union minister over sacrilege cases’
When asked about his meeting with the union minister, Baba Aman Singh told the media Tuesday that he had been meeting ministers demanding justice for the sacrilege cases of 2015.
“We also told him (Tomar) to repeal the three farm laws and give assurance of MSP. But he asked us to move out of the Singhu border with our horses. We were offered money for our horses that might have died,” he said, alleging that the Centre was trying to conspire to end the farmers’ agitation.
About Pinky, he said that he knew him from the time that the farmers’ agitation began, adding there was nothing wrong in going with the former cop to meet the minister. Gurmeet Pinky told the media that he had gone to meet the union minister with Baba Aman Singh, whom he knew for a long time. “Don’t drag me into any controversy otherwise I will take everyone to court,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kundli DSP, Varinder Kumar, told ThePrint that Baba Aman Singh would be brought in for questioning about the killing.
“I had gone to meet him today but it was not regarding the picture (with the union minister) as that has nothing to do with our inquiry,” Kumar said. “But since Baba Aman Singh was residing very close to the spot where Lakhbir was killed, we will be calling him for questioning.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)