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Crossing Swords with The Law: Spotlight on Nihangs Again following Spate of Violence

Aside from the killing of a young man this week over suspicion of kidnapping a girl, there have been instances of violence earlier too, some over personal quarrels while others in the name of religion
A group of Nihangs allegedly fatally torturing a man in his twenties on suspicion of kidnapping a girl this week has brought focus onto this Sikh warrior order once again. As per the family members of the deceased, the Nihangs assaulted and tortured Avtar Singh of Kuhli Kalan village (Samrala) who later succumbed to his injuries. The matter was before the police and was being investigated but the Nihangs became the “judges", say the family members. Karam Singh, a cousin of the deceased, told News18 that the Nihangs were involved at the behest of the girl’s family.
“They had first complained to the police. The police questioned Avtar but he had no idea regarding the whereabouts of the girl. He used to talk to her but did not know about her being kidnapped or running away," he said. The police called him for questioning on another day but they were intercepted by the girl’s family members along with the Nihangs on the way to the Samrala police station, Karam added. They told my Mama ji (uncle) to give Avtar to them for questioning. On protesting, they were beaten and threatened not to tell anybody. They took Avtar to the dera in Majhli Kalan village and tortured him. The next day, my Mama ji got a call from the Nihangs saying they gave ice cream to Avtar to eat and he was unable to breathe after that. The police called to inform us that he had died. However, the villagers said Avtar was beaten at the dera and his screams could be heard all night," he said.
Who gave the Nihangs the authority to do this? This is a question Avtar’s family is asking. Karam said, “These Nihangs are disrespecting the Bana (the Nihang clothing). Nihangs are supposed to protect the innocent but these Nihangs are misusing the sacred arms." The family members protested against the killing after which the police arrested the accused. Past instances
This is not the first case where the actions of the Nihangs are in question. There have been instances of violence earlier too, some over personal quarrels while others in the name of religion. When it comes to killings related to sacrilege (disrespecting of the holy book), the issue becomes very sensitive. A few days ago, a man was beaten when he allegedly was getting his beard cut while wearing a Dumala (the Nihang turban) and a video of the assault was also shared.
During the 2020-21 farmers’ protest, a Dalit labourer, Lakhbir Singh, was killed at Singhu Border by a group of Nihang Sikhs “on suspicion of disrespecting the Sikh holy book". Days after this, another man, a poultry farm worker, was allegedly attacked at the protest site as he refused to give a chicken for free.

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