The family of Lakhbir Singh, a Dalit farm labourer brutally killed by members of a Sikh sect for alleged sacrilege, said on Saturday he was a god-fearing man who would never think of desecrating a holy book and demanded a high-level probe to bring out the truth.
His wife Jaspreet Kaur and three daughters aged 12, 11 and eight years live in a small temporary house made of mud and bricks in village Cheema Kalan, around 50 km away from the holy city of Amritsar. His son passed away two years ago.
The family was barely managing two square meals a day when Lakhbir was alive and would work in the village fields or in the grain market of Tarn Taran district for his livelihood.
“Who will come forward to look after his family now and what about the future of his children..who will help them,” laments his sister Raj Kaur.
The body of Lakhbir Singh, 35, was found tied to an overturned police barricade at the Singhu Border site where farmers are protesting against the three central farm laws. His left hand was chopped off and his body had over 10 wounds caused by sharp-edged weapons.
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 lynching.
Questioning his claim, Jaspreet Kaur and Raj Kaur said Lakhbir Singh "had a deep respect for the holy Guru Granth Sahib”.
“He was a god-fearing man who could not 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 it is assumed for a moment that Lakhbir had done something wrong, those who killed him in such a barbaric manner should have given him time to prove his innocence, or they 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. Where does the law of land prevail here?” said his grieving sister.
His 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 was issueless. Harnam Singh, however, is now no more.
The family claimed that Lakhbir had no affiliation with any of the political outfits and never went to any political rally in support of any political person.
His sister Raj Kaur said, “My brother was having mere 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)”.