Shiromani Akali Dal leaders and a large number of followers of Sikh preacher Baba Ram Singh, who died of a bullet injury, paid their last respects to him at the Nanaksar Gurdwara in Karnal’s Singhra village on Thursday.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar termed the 65-year-old preacher’s death “an irreparable loss” while his Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh also expressed grief over the demise of Baba Ram Singh.
As it comes to terms with its loss, the area in which Singhra village of Baba Ram Singh falls, recalls how two farmers had lost life in police firing, which had taken place at Nissing town, barely five kms away, in 1993 during the then Bhajan Lal-led Congress government.
“Bhajan Lal was scheduled to address a public meeting at Nissing on January 7, 1993. That time the farmers were on an agitation in connection with waiver of electricity bills. As the protesting farmers moved to the rally venue, a police firing took place in which two farmers had died and several others had received injuries,” said Karam Singh Mathana, acting president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).
Now, the farmers from Singhra village are active in the agitation launched against three controversial agri laws. The locals say there is hardly any farmer from the village who has not gone to Delhi borders to join the agitation. Sarpanch Navdeep Singh said the Singhu border of Delhi is around 130 km from Singhra. The Sikh dominated village has a population of around 5,000 residents. “The Sikh community members had come to this village from Pakistan during partition. However, the village was in existence even before partition,” says Navdeep Singh.
BKU president Gurnam Singh Chaduni said the farmers of the area are active in the ongoing agitation for the past six months.
“Our sect has not much interest in politics. But we want the voice of farmers to be heard. The three farm bills should be withdrawn. If needed, the same can be introduced later but after taking the farmers into confidence,” said Baba Amarjeet Singh, the senior most functionary of the Nanaksar sect after Baba Ram Singh.
The preacher’s body was on Wednesday night taken to the Singhra village. The cremation will take place on Friday.
A number of political leaders including SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief and SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, and Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja visited the gurdwara to pay their last respects.
“Paid tributes and had ‘antim darshan’ of Sant Baba Ram Singh Ji Nananksar Singhra Karnal Wale. Sant ji sacrificed his life in support of the agitating farmers who are suffering on roads to get their rights,” Sukhbir tweeted.
Interacting with reporters in Karnal, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately accept farmers’ demand for the repeal of the farm laws. “Farmers have a small demand, but the country’s prime minister is not ready to accept it. The PM should immediately accept their demands. He should at least understand the sentiments when saintly people like Sant ji are giving up their lives,” he said.
“I am surprised and saddened that the government is still not moved. Within three weeks nearly 30 farmers have died but the Centre is not concerned,” he added.
Harsimrat asked how a government can be “so cruel towards its own people?” “Farmers are only asking for their rights,” she said.
Selja alleged the Centre is “insensitive” towards the plight of farmers. “The government should accept the demands of farmers”.
Taking to Twitter, Chief Minister Khattar said Sant Ram Singh’s death is “a moment of great sorrow”. He said the real tribute to Singh would be to walk the path of human welfare shown by him.
Amarinder tweeted, “Extremely shocked and saddened on learning the tragic news of Sant Ram Singh ji of Nanaksar Singhra wale from Karnal ending his life at Singhu Border in protest against the Centre’s Farm Laws. My prayers are with his family and supporters in this time of grief.”
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