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Attack on cops: Nihang group head has a criminal past

Had grabbed village land to build gurdwara; was earlier booked for murder bid, theft, say police
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Published on Apr 12, 2020 10:49 PM IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By

PATIALA

The leader of the self-styled Nihangs group involved in the murderous attack on cops at the Sanaur vegetable market in Patiala early Sunday morning, in which an ASI’s hand was cut off, had unleashed a reign of terror at Balbera village.

Baba Balwinder Singh had illegally occupied the village land for the past 20 years and had built a gurdwara, named Khichdi Sahib on it, say area residents.

“It was a village pond and about 20 years back, Baba Balwinder, donning robes of a Nihang, emerged and propagated that a Sikh guru partook of khichdi at this place while he was on his way to Delhi. He took over village pond and set up the gurdwara,” said Thakur Singh Mann, a native of village Balbera. He said that the villagers opposed the move, but he managed to browbeat his opponents.

Balwinder has a criminal background. He also grabbed land of a commission agent by terrorising and assaulting his family members, and later even struck compromise after an FIR was registered against him.

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Patiala senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu said three FIRs are already registered against Balwinder and his associates. “Balwinder and his aides were booked for attempt to murder in 2013 and a theft case was registered against him in 2010, in which untraceable report was filed. Similarly, in 2000, an FIR was registered against him for land grabbing and murder bid, in which he managed to strike a compromise with the opposite party. Police is ascertaining facts why the cases against him did not reach logical conclusion,” he said, adding that he might have threatened the witnesses and opposite parties to strike a compromise.

“He also threatened me today when I asked him to surrender,” said the SSP.

The police will also ask the revenue department to do demarcation of land of the gurdwara to ascertain the ownership.

Area residents say Balwinder and his associates use to set their cattle free for grazing in agricultural fields of the people. They used to threaten and beat up people to crush opposing voices. “It is strange from where Balwinder and his aides were getting funds as Rs 37 lakh was recovered from the gurdwara. Police must probe this angle,” said an area resident.

Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal among others have condemned the attack on cops.

Nihang organisation Budha Dal chief Baba Balbir Singh said the attackers were not Nihangs, but anti- social elements .

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