Friday, March 1, 2024

Role of central agencies suspected in murder of Dalit Sikh at Singhu: Punjab Congress leaders

Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar

Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Tuesday alleged there could be a role of Central agencies in the murder of a 35-year-old Dalit Sikh from Punjab at the farmers’ protest site at Singhu border.

“There is certainly something more than what meets the eye,” he said. “The BJP has long been trying to tarnish the secular farmers’ struggle as a Sikh movement to term protesting Sikhs as militants.”

A mutilated body of Lakhbir Singh, a Dalit labourer, had been found tied to barricade at the farmers’ protest site on October 15. The man was accused of disrespecting the holy book of the Sikhs. A group of Nihangs had claimed responsibility for the killing in a purported video. Police have so far arrested four Nihang Sikhs – Sarabjit Singh, Narain Singh, Bhagwant Singh and Govind Preet Singh – in the case. Police said the accused had confessed to the murder and cited “desecration” of the Sikh holy book as the reason.

A purported photo of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar with a Nihang leader has caused controversy, days after the arrest of four members of the Sikh warrior order in the Singhu border murder case.

Aman Singh, the head of the sect to which the key accused belongs, and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Tomar, met two months ago.

Singh claimed that he was offered Rs 10 lakh to leave the farmers’ protest site, according to The Tribune.

Singh said that he rejected the offer. “We made four demands, withdrawal of farm laws, MSP [minimum support price] guarantee, justice in sacrilege cases occurring in Punjab since 2015 and withdrawal of cases against us. We told them we will lift the dharna only when our demands are met.”

Underlining that no amount of condemnation of this killing would ever be enough, Jakhar said BJP was conspiring to create a divide between Sikhs, Nihangs, farmers, and Dalits urging them to remain vigilant against these nefarious designs.

“If you look at the recent events through the prism of agencies, first a Haryana SDM publicly ordering his men to break heads of farmers, then Haryana Chief Minister asking people to pick up sticks followed by mowing down of farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri and then Singhu incident and now the increase of BSF jurisdiction to 50 kilometers,” Jakhar said, “are steps of a well thought out plot against Punjab.”

The trail points to a well-orchestrated strategy to derail the farmer agitations as well as defame Sikhs, according to the Congress leader.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa also said there seemed to be a “deep-rooted conspiracy” to tarnish the farmers’ protest against the agricultural laws.

“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 NS Tomar in particular, the lynching incident has now taken an entirely different turn,” Randhawa added.

The deputy chief minister said that the Nihang sect chief should have informed farmers’ unions about his meeting with Tomar. “In view of the recent photographic evidence available, the Nihang leader will also need to explain in what capacity he had met Union Agriculture Minister NS Tomar and whether he was mandated to do so by the farmers’ organisations,” he added.

Randhawa said that the meeting between the Nihang leader and Tomar has created doubts in the minds of the people. “These need to be cleared,” he said.

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