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Singhu Murder: Victim's Family Rejects 'Desecration' Claim, Demand High-Level Probe

Lakhbir Singh "was a god-fearing man who could never think of desecrating a holy book", his family told the media.

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New Delhi: The family of Lakhbir Singh, the farm labourer who was brutally murdered by members of the Sikh Nihang sect, have rejected the perpetrators’ claims that he had ‘desecrated’ a holy book, saying the victim was a god-fearing man and demanding a high-level probe into the killing.

Lakhbir Singh, 35, was found tied to an overturned police barricade at the Singhu Border site where farmers are protesting against the Union government’s three farm laws. His left hand was chopped off and his body had over 10 wounds caused by sharp-edged weapons.

In a video clip that has gone viral on social media platforms, some Nihangs are seen standing as the man lies on the ground in a pool of blood with his chopped off left hand lying next to him. In the clip, the Nihangs are heard saying the man has been punished for desecrating a holy book of the Sikhs.

Hours after the macabre crime, a man wearing the blue robes of the Sikhs’ Nihang order claimed that he had “punished” the victim for “desecrating” a Sikh holy book.

The man, identified as Sarabjit Singh from Vitwha in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, was later arrested for the murder.

Singh’s estranged wife Jaspreet Kaur and their three daughters aged 12, 11 and eight years old, live in a small temporary house made of mud and bricks in village Cheema Kalan, around 50 km from the holy city of Amritsar. Their son had passed away two years ago. They belong to a Dalit community.

Questioning the accused’s claim, Jaspreet Kaur and Raj Kaur, Singh’s sister, said Lakhbir “had deep respect for the holy Guru Granth Sahib”.

“He was a god-fearing man who could never think of desecrating a holy book… Whenever he used to go to a gurdwara, he would pray for the well-being of his family and the society,” said Jaspreet Kaur.

He had no criminal record and there was no report of him being a bad character, the victim’s family said and demanded a high-level probe into the entire episode to bring out the truth.

Jaspreet and Raj Kaur said even if Lakhbir had desecrated the book, the Nihangs should have given him a chance to prove his innocence or could have handed him over to the police.

“At no stage could they be the deciding authority while running their own self-styled court which pronounced punishment and then murdered him inhumanly. Does the law of the land prevail here?” asked his sister.

Other family members, including sister-in-law Simranjit Kaur and mother-in-law Sawinder Kaur, told the media that Lakhbir Singh and his sister Raj Kaur were adopted by a retired army man Harnam Singh, who did not have any biological children. Harnam Singh passed away many years ago.

The family claimed that Lakhbir had no affiliation with any of the political outfits and that he never went to any political rallies.

His sister Raj Kaur said, “My brother merely had Rs 50 when he left home and that money was not enough to reach Singhu border. But he might have reached there while taking a lift from some tractor trolley or truck.”

“Moreover, before the incident, my brother was living with those people, who are now behind his murder, for three days,” she claimed.

Asked why Lakhbir had gone to the Singhu border, Raj Kaur said someone might have offered him more money for labour.

Anti-caste groups demand justice

Meanwhile, anti-caste activists asked how Singh had ‘desecrated’ the holy book. They wondered if caste discrimination and beliefs about ‘ritual pollution’ had played a role in Lakhbir’s killing.

Around 15 anti-caste outfits submitted a memorandum to the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) on Saturday demanding stringent action against Lakhbir’s killers. Among the organisations which submitted the memorandum to NCSC chairman Vijay Sampla were the Akhil Bharatiya Khatik Samaj, Akhil Bharatiya Berwa Vikas Sangh, Dhanak Welfare Association.

They urged the panel to ensure that this gory incident be fairly investigated and stringent punishment for culprits be ensured.

The NCSC had on Friday asked the Haryana police to take strict action against those behind the killing. Sampla also sought a preliminary report from the Haryana police within 24 hours.

Accused sent to seven-day remand

A court in Sonepat on Saturday remanded Sarabjit Singh, the arrested in connection with the lynching of Lakhbir Singh, in police custody for seven days.

A senior police official of Sonipat police said that while seeking Sarabjit’s custody, police submitted before the court that they have to make certain recoveries from the arrested accused.

The official said that Sarabjit has named four more people during interrogations while pointing to their involvement in the incident.

“We produced Sarabjit before the court. The accused has been remanded in seven days’ police custody by the court, Sonipat’s deputy superintendent of police,” Virender Singh told news agency PTI.

“The accused has pointed to the involvement of four more people in the case and taken their names…we are conducting further investigations in this regard. We have to make some recoveries from the arrested accused including the weapon used in the crime and the clothes he was wearing,” he said.

The total number of accused in the crime could be more than five, the DSP said, adding further investigations were on.

(With PTI inputs)