Dalit youth’s suicide in Punjab sparks controversy as family, politicians link his death to NIA questioning

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Srinagar: Hours after a Dalit youth from Sehjra village of Punjab state was summoned by National Investigation Agency (NIA) for questioning, the 23-year-old youth’s suicide on the same evening has sparked a controversy as his is family is linking his death to NIA questioning.

On July 13, Lovepreet Singh, 23, was summoned by the probe agency in relation to an investigation in a 21-month-old Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case initially registered by the Amritsar Police for “writing pro-Khalistan slogans on walls”.

However, Singh died on the same evening by suicide inside a room at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali city of Punjab, a report by a Delhi based newspaper The Indian Express said.

In this regard, the Singh’s father Kewal Singh, who works as a farm labourer, told the newspaper that on July 13, his son boarded a bus from Village Sahejra in Barnala to Chandigarh.

“He also sent some videos of his journey to his wife. He was in touch over phone with me and his wife till reaching the NIA office. However, he didn’t call back after reaching the NIA office,” Kewal Singh was quoted by the report as saying.

He said, his son was called again on his phone but his voice was shivering and was not talking much. “He didn’t call back his wife. Later, we came to know that he had committed suicide at Gurudwara Amb Sahib,” Kewal Singh said.

Demanding an investigation in the case, he said that his son Lovepreet’s death is linked with NIA summoning. “I don’t know what happened with him inside the NIA office. There should be an investigation and those responsible for the suicide of my son should be booked,” he said.

Besides the family, former Leader of Opposition and Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira has also demanded a high-level probe into the case.

Khaira visited the youth’s family in Ratta Khera village in Sangrur accompanied by rebel AAP MLA’s Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa.

“The villagers said Lovepreet was a very hardworking and religious boy who never indulged in any anti-social or criminal activities. They said he was serving as ‘Granthi’ at village Sehjra gurdwara near Barnala. They also said that their family is landless, very poor and earned their livelihood through daily wages,” Khaira told the newspaper.

Later on, while demanding an independent probe into the death Khaira and the other MLAs took the family of Lovepreet to meet SSP Sangrur with an application.

“Many youths have been recently arrested under the UAPA law and it is very likely that Lovepreet may have been tortured both physically and mentally during the interrogation,” Khaira claimed.

He added that an uncle of the deceased has disclosed to villagers that there were torture marks on the private parts of Lovepreet’s body.

The report added that suicide note left by Lovepreet said: “I apologise to my wife. I am leaving you in the middle. I can never pay for what you have done for me. I will miss you. I had many plans with you in life but fate was not with us.”

While investigating the case till April 2020, the report said that Punjab police had not even visited the house of Lovepreet on single occasion after filing the FIR in October 2018. The NIA took over the case on April 5, 2020.

Lovepreet according to the report belonged to Sangrur district. However, police challan said that he was a resident of Muktsar district.

There were total of 30 accused in the case and police arrested and charge-sheeted only 11 of them. The NIA arrested the twelfth accused, Pargat Singh, last month after taking the over case in April this year.

“There is no criminal record of Lovepreet at our police station,” Assistant Sub Inspector Surjit Singh at Lehra police station under which Lovepreet’s village Ratta Khera falls told the newspaper.

Lovepreet had trained as a Sikh priest at Ajnala Dera, which is run by Bhai Amrik Singh Ajnala, who was appointed Takht Kesgarh Sahib Anandpur Sahib Jathedar during the 2015 Sarbat Khalsa at Amritsar.


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