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Day before death, Sikh preacher went to farm protest site, say associates

In a purported suicide note, Baba Ram Singh, also known as Nanaksar Singhra Wale, had expressed pain over the plight of farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Singhra (karnal) | Updated: December 18, 2020 8:29:11 am
Farmers protests, Farmer suicide, Singhu Farmer suicide, Baba Ram Singh, Farmers, Sikh priest, Indian ExpressFollowers queue up to pay respects to Baba Ram Singh at Singhra gurdwara. (Express photo by Sukhbir Siwach)

THE SIKH preacher who died of a bullet injury Wednesday at Kundli near the Singhu border of Delhi, with his associates saying that he shot himself with his licensed revolver, had visited the farm protest sites twice earlier, including on the day before his death, according to followers.

In a purported suicide note, Baba Ram Singh, also known as Nanaksar Singhra Wale, had expressed pain over the plight of farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws.

“On December 9, he first visited the site of the agitation at the Singhu border and donated Rs 5 lakh. He also asked his followers to join the agitation,” said Baba Amarjeet Singh, who is the most senior functionary of the Nanaksar sect after Baba Ram Singh, at the Singhra gurdwara in Haryana’s Karnal.

“He last went to the Singhu and Tikri borders on December 15 and returned at 2.30 am that night. Within half an hour, he told his associates that he wanted to go again but was advised against it. At 10.30 am on December 16, they took him to the Singhu border… He did not give any indication that he would commit this extreme act,” he said.

Baba Ram Singh

The incident took place when the preacher was alone in a car near the protest stage, his associates have told police. “Babaji had asked his men to go to the stage and was with the driver. Then, he sent the driver to get tea. When he returned after a few minutes, around 3 pm, Babaji was no more. He had no enmity with anybody,” said Amarjeet Singh.

According to police, there is no indication so far of any foul play in the death. “As per the postmortem report, he died because of one bullet injury near the forehead. The weapon is yet to be recovered,” Sandeep Kumar, investigation officer, told The Indian Express.

According to followers, Baba Ram Singh took charge of the gurdwara, known as ‘Ek Onkar Ashram Thath Nanaksar Singhra’, in 1990. Over the past three decades, the sect has become popular in the region with Singh travelling to several countries, including the US, Canada and Australia to deliver his lectures.

On Thursday, there was a stream of political leaders to mourn his death: Former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and his wife and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal; Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja; Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda. The cremation is scheduled to be held Friday.

“Baba Ram Singh hailed from Konke Kalan in Ludhiana district. He had started taking interest in religious activities when he was just five years old. At a young age, he joined a gurdwara in the neighbouring Jagraon town and joined the Nanaksar sect,” said Amarjeet Singh.

According to those closely linked to the gurdwara, another preacher from the Nanaksar sect had died during a protest 38 years ago.

“In 1982, Baba Jang Singh, who was heading this gurdwara, lost his life in Delhi during an agitation against the death of over 30 persons in an accident involving a train and a bus,” said Upinder Raj Singh, adding that his family had donated 13 acres of land to set up the gurdwara in 1971.

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