To ensure peace, Khalsa Fauj forms ring of security at Singhu
Nihang Sikhs or the “Khalsa Fauj” took over the security of farmers at the Singhu border late Friday night, saying they had not come to fight but to ensure peace.
Occupying one side of the Sonepat-Delhi highway right next to the police barricades, the men donning blue tunics and large turbans with a chakra (round sharp weapon) around them, and armed with swords, said they had taken positions at the barricades forming a wall between security personnel and farmers protesting peacefully.
Camping with 50-60 horses, brought to the Singhu border in trucks from Kudhiana, Ropar and other areas of Punjab, and a northern goshawk — the bird known as baaj in Punjabi associated with the tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh as a symbol of strength and tenacity — the Nihang Sikhs said their presence symbolised safety and security.
“We have now camped right at the barricades across which the police force is deployed. If they need to reach out to the peaceful protesters, they will have to go through us. Nihangs mean safety and security. We are here to provide our people safety and we do not mean any harm. We do not endorse violence in any way,” said Gurdeep Singh, a member of the group, from Ludhiana.
Condemning the violence that left many protesters injured on the first day of the agitation when police stopped them from marching into the city, he said Nihang groups were spread over the country and assembled whenever required. “We do not want the violence to be repeated. We have our men from Delhi, Haryana and many parts of Punjab joining us. At present, there are about 500 of us,” he said.
The horses are tethered next to the concrete barriers placed by police. On a pole, in between, rested the bird, around which the Nihangs were busy preparing their meal of the day. The area where they cook is considered sacred and no one other than a Nihang is allowed near the spot.
Another Khalsa fauji (warrior) Aman Singh, from Ropar, said their fight was not a religious one. “We are here to fight for our people’s rights. We have weapons but we will never resort to violence. The weapons symbolise safety. Our presence means that no one will be oppressed or ill-treated.”
Another Nihang, Satnam Singh Baaghi, who joined the group from Maharashtra, said there are more of them coming. “Our number will only swell. We will only move forward,” he said.
Singh said they were keeping an eye on any anti-social elements who may try to malign the peaceful protest. “Our men are vigilant and we are keeping an eye on anyone who looks like an outsider. They are intercepted and only let in after their credentials are verified,” he added.
While Nihangs were spotted only at the Singhu border in a noticeable number, at the Ghazipur protest site too participants sounded concerned about anti-social elements.
Digambar Singh, 40, a farmer from Bijnor and president of the UP unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union’s youth wing, said, “People are trying to politicise the protests. We’ve had political cadres come in and sport caps from farmers’ bodies to mislead public and get their agenda across. Our volunteers keep a strict eye on who is doing what at the protest sites.” While addressing the gathering on the highway, Singh told the farmers that they must be alert and not allow anyone to harm the legitimacy of the agitation.