32-year-old man hacked to death at farmer protest site, 1 arrested
Sonepat Police said Nihangs, a Sikh order identified by their blue robes and swords, targeted the man for allegedly desecrating the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.
Members of a Sikh group allegedly killed a 32-year-old farm labourer, hacked off his left arm, and tied his body to a metal barricade near the Singhu farm protest site on the outskirts of the Capital in the early hours of Friday, police said.
Sonepat Police said Nihangs, a Sikh order identified by their blue robes and swords, targeted the man for allegedly desecrating the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. The family of the deceased man, however, said that he could not have committed sacrilege.
The victim was identified as Lakhbir Singh, a Dalit farm labourer from Punjab’s Tarn Taran district. A purported video clip of the incident -- which happened at Kundli on the Delhi-Haryana border -- went viral on social media.
“We have registered a case under sections 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The forensic team has examined the scene of the crime,” Rohtak additional director general of police, Sandeep Khirwar.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of 43 unions coordinating the 11-month-long protest against three central agriculture laws, said a group of Nihangs claimed responsibility for the brutal killing after the man allegedly tried to desecrate the holy book.
“Both the parties to the incident, the Nihang group and the deceased person, have no relation with the Morcha. As always, the SKM will cooperate with the police and the administration in any lawful action,” the group said in a statement, adding that the peaceful farm movement was opposed to any violence.
A senior Sonepat police official said the accused, Saravjeet, surrendered before a team led by DSP Virender Rao visited the Nihangs’ camp.
“He will be presented before the local court on Saturday. He had surrendered after his video of claiming responsibility of the killing went viral on social media platforms,” the official added.
The victim’s post-mortem examination has been conducted and an autopsy report is awaited, said Kundli Station House Officer (SHO) Ravi Kumar.
Haryana Police said the body was found tied to a metal barricade near the Singhu protest site stage around 5.30 am on Friday.
“When the police reached there, the person had died. Some people were standing there. When the police tried to take the body away, the people at the spot protested ...the body was brought to the civil hospital Sonepat for post-mortem examination,” said a police spokesman .
Village chief Awan Kumar said Singh could not have committed sacrilege on his own.
“He might have been manipulated by some people ...we have heard that he was wearing some of the Sikh religious symbols...”
He said their panchayat (village council) will investigate the matter to find out who was behind the sacrilege.
“We sent him to a drug de-addiction centre several times, but to no avail,” said Kumar.
Tarn Taran deputy police superintendent Sucha Singh Ball said Singh had no criminal background but that he was an alcoholic. “He went to the Singhu border alone.”
“Around a week ago, Lakhbir took ₹50 from his sister on the pretext of going to the village’s grain market for labour work, but he never returned. He couldn’t have gone to Delhi alone. He was taken there by someone. So far, we don’t know who was behind it, but he couldn’t have committed sacrilege,” said Lakhbir’s brother-in-law Sukhchain Singh.
In the purported video clip of the crime, some men in blue turbans and robes 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 purportedly shows the Nihangs asking the man where had he come from and who sent him to commit the “sacrilege”. Lakhbir is heard pleading with the group in Punjabi.The source and authenticity of the videos couldn’t be verified.