The police said the Nihang Sikhs, identified as Bhagwant Singh and Govind Preet Singh, were taken into custody from Singhu border after both surrendered and “confessed” to their role in the murder. In a video clip Saturday night, Nihang leaders told media persons that the men would surrender before the police.
Lakhbir Singh (35), a resident of Cheema Kalan village in Punjab’s Tarn Taran, was brutally tortured and his hand chopped off before he was strung up on a police barricade at the Singhu protest site in the early hours of Friday.
Police sources said that during questioning one of the arrested accused said that he was on guard duty at the Gurudwara Saheb of Moyan Mandi Wale. “The accused said the victim entered the gurudwara when the priest had gone to the washroom and one of the guards had gone to attend to a sick horse. They then saw him running and got hold of him,” said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
Virender Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police (law and order) of Sonepat, said, “The two accused were taken into custody after questioning. They will be produced in a court at Sonepat today and we will seek their remand. In preliminary questioning, they have given varying statements regarding the version of events of the day. The claims of desecration of holy book are yet to be verified.”
The accused were identified through several videos of the incident which were shared on social media. A Sonepat police team had gone to Amritsar to arrest Narain Singh, who had ‘surrendered’ to Amritsar rural police on Saturday. “Narain Singh has been brought to Sonepat from Amritsar and he will also be produced in a court today,” the DSP said.
Sarabjit Singh, a Nihang Sikh from Gurdaspur, was on Saturday remanded in seven days’ police custody by a court in Sonepat. Haryana Police had sought 14 days’ remand for recovery of murder weapon and identification of co-accused. The police had told the court that Sarabjit had named four people as suspects and they needed to identify the suspects and make arrests from locations in Punjab including Gurdaspur and Chamkaur Sahib. Police also had pleaded that the blood-stained clothes of the accused were to be recovered.
An autopsy conducted by a medical board had found that the victim had 37 injuries on his body, most of which were inflicted with sharp-edged weapons. The cause of death was haemorrhagic shock.