A 32-year-old man has not only been beaten to death but also mutilated near the protest site at the Singhu border on Friday. The Dalit Sikh man was allegedly lynched by the Nihang group, a Sikh order identified by their blue robes and swords. However, such atrocious crime with a Dalit Sikh at the farmers’ protest, can be a huge setback for Congress as well as Shiromani Akali Dal in the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections.
Dalit Sikh brutally lynched to death
On Friday, a man identified as Lakhbir Singh was murdered near the Singhu border by a group of Nihangs who hacked off his left arm and tied his body to a metal barricade in the public view. According to the reports, Lakhbir belonged to the Dalit community and had no criminal history or political affiliation.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), however, asserted that the Nihang group claimed responsibility for the brutal killing after the man allegedly tried to desecrate the holy book.
Lakhbir’s brother-in-law Sukhchain Singh said, “Around a week ago, Lakhbir took ₹50 from his sister on the pretext of going to the village’s grain market for labour work, but he never returned. He couldn’t have gone to Delhi alone. He was taken there by someone. So far, we don’t know who was behind it, but he couldn’t have committed sacrilege.”
Congress and Akalis’ petty politics to fuel farmers protest
The aged-old Congress party and Akalis have been fueling farmers’ protest for vote bank in the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections. In such a move, the party, earlier this year, tried to spread fake news by using the name of Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain Manpreet Singh. As reported by TFI, a Facebook page named “With RG” posted – “Manpreet Singh Captain Hockey Team refused to accept Award Money from Modi Government until 3-Black Agriculture Laws are cancelled.”
Congress party’s Dalit card to ensure vote share
The aged-old Congress party has also switched sides to appease Dalits to sweep the state in Punjab elections 2022. Recently, Charanjit Singh Channi was inducted as the first-ever Dalit CM in Punjab. With his induction as Chief Minister of the state, the Congress party is aiming at grabbing 32 per cent of Punjab’s electorate which is held by the Dalit Community in the state. Moreover, Congress made a failed attempt to undo the damage which the party itself had done in the state to create a rift between Jatt Sikhs and Dalits by fueling farmers’ protest.
Anti-Dalit history of Congress
Congress party has a history of denying power to Dalits. It was Channi only who once led a revolt in the state unit of the ruling Congress to strategise “against the step-motherly treatment meted out to them”. Earlier in 2018, The MLAs, upset at the “poor representation” of Dalits in the cabinet, claimed that the SCs, which constitute 32.5 per cent of the state’s population have been given only three Cabinet berths.
The infamous meet between the then general secretary of Congress Rajiv Gandhi and then AP chief minister Tantuguri Anjaiah in 1982 is another instance that depicts the anti-Dalit history of Congress. Gandhi, while on a private visit to the Andhra Pradesh’s Begumpet airport, had shouted at Anjaiah.
Dalit Sikhs of Punjab angry with the SAD
The Dalit Sikhs of Punjab were angry with the SAD before the 2017 general election, and a voter from the community even claimed, “Whatever vikaas the government (SAD government) claims it has done has been done only in that side of the village [the Jat Sikh colony]. Every election, all political parties promise us jobs, but we do not see them after they win.”
This anger against the SAD for looking after the welfare of only Jat Sikhs led to the Congress party coming back to power in February 2017. But, in the last four years, Congress has neither been successful in protecting the Hindu community of the state nor brought any development to the Dalit Sikh community. Clearly, the voter base of the party is not happy and is looking for an alternative.
Now, with this heinous incident that happened at the protest site, the farmers as well as Dalits, both the factions will go against the Congress as well as Akalis. For decades, especially since Punjab was created as a separate state in 1966, the politics of the state has revolved around Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress.
The Dalits who were supposed to benefit the Congress party as an emerging power in Punjab will now be ensuring its downfall in the state. As a result, BJP can capitalise on the people’s frustration with both mainstream parties of the state and emerge as an alternative in the 2022 assembly election.