Lakhbir Singh, Dalit Sikh, was hung on a police barricade on October 15 in Singh. When the police found him, his left hand and feet were cut off. The police immediately brought him to the civil hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
According to a local news outlet, The Print, the incident happened during one of the protests that have been ongoing in India. Farmers were demonstrating against the laws that were passed in September 2020. Several Nihang Sikhs, in an interview with The Print, claimed that the victim committed sacrilege. They contended that Singh picked up the Sarbloh Granth, a Sikh religious book, and attempted to run away with it.
However, interviews conducted by The Print revealed the people in the vicinity gave various inconsistent responses. Some Nihang Sikhs also claimed that the victim tore a page of the holy book. Others argued that he threw the book in a trashcan; others claimed that he tried burning it.
Other Nihang Sikhs claimed that the victim, Lakhbir Singh is an agent of the government of Haryana.
The 35-year old victim is a farm laborer from Cheema Khurd village in Tarn Taran in Punjab province. According to the police, Lakhbir Singh has “had no criminal history or political affiliation.” His family described him as someone who is “mentally challenged.”
His family could not believe what happened to him and refuted the accusations of the Nihang Sikhs. In an interview with The Print, his estranged wife, Jaspreet Kaur, said that “Lakhbir can never desecrate the Sarbloh Granth.” “He was the biggest believer of Guru Gobind Singh
Saiyuki Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of 40 Indian farmer unions, called the incident a religious issue, used by the government to derail the farmers’ efforts in their fight against the new government laws. Jagjit Singh Dallewal, leader of the SKM, said that his group condemns the incident but insists that “a thorough probe from the government, in this case, to ascertain why and how it happened.”
Since Friday, multiple arrests have been made; Sarabjit Singh, a member of the Nihang Sikhs, was arrested last Friday evening. Another accused assailant, Narayan Singh, was arrested on Saturday.
The farmer protests have been ongoing since 2020. Amidst the global pandemic, India’s northern region has seen violent clashes during the protests against the 2020 Indian Agriculture Acts.