“They (the Nihangs) have said that it is a religious matter and the government should not link it to farmers’ protest… Farmers have also said that this was a religious issue. We’re talking to the Nihangs and have told them that they’re not needed here as of now,” Tikait was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
He added, “This is a conspiracy executed by the government. Now, the government should ensure that the situation does not deteriorate any further.”
On Friday, a Dalit Sikh man, Lakhbir Singh, was lynched and strung up at the Singhu protest site, with a group of Nihang Sikhs, who are part of the protesters, claiming responsibility for it in a video. Videos and photos showed the man tied to an overturned police barricade, his wrist chopped off and his ankle and leg broken. The Nihang Sikhs said the attack was carried out as the man allegedly disrespected holy scripture.
Soon after videos emerged, SKM, which has been spearheading the protest ever since farmers first showed up at the border site last November, sought to distance itself from the incident. Condemning the killing, the SKM promised to cooperate with the police and said it had “no relation” with the attackers or the victim.
Meanwhile, three people, who were allegedly involved in the lynching, were sent to six days in police custody on Sunday as the Haryana Police set up two Special Investigation Teams to probe the incident. So far, four people have been arrested.
Narain Singh, a member of the Nihang order, was arrested on Saturday from near Amritsar. Two more Nihangs, Govindpreet Singh and Bhagwant Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib, “surrendered” on the same day before the Sonipat Police in connection with the lynching.
The three accused were produced before a court in Sonipat, which remanded them in six-day police custody. The police sought remand of the accused on the grounds that they have to reconstruct the scene of the crime and recover weapons and clothes of the accused, besides interrogating them in detail about the entire incident.
One SIT, headed by IPS officer Mayank Gupta, who is the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Kharkhoda, Sonipat, will investigate the videos of the incident which were circulating on social media.
The second SIT led by Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sonipat, Virender Singh, will carry out the overall probe into the case. Lakhbir’s family had earlier questioned the attackers’ claim that he committed sacrilege, and demanded a high-level probe into the case.
(With agency inputs)
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