Six men upper caste men have been booked by the police for the murder and dismemberment of a Dalit youth in Punjab. The murder of Sukhchain Singh is believed to have taken place as a result of a rivalry between liquor smugglers who are active in the area.
The case brought back the chilling reminder of the Abohar murder case from around a year ago, when the limbs of Dalit youths Bhim Sain and Gurjant Singh Janta had been chopped off by upper-caste men on December 11. Sain died of the injuries. The prime accused in that case had been Akali Dal leader Shiv Lal Doda, who would later surrender to the police after being on the run for over a month.
The 20-year-old Sukhchain Singh who hails from the Gharagna village of the Mansa district in Punjab, is said to be a petty liquor smuggler. He had developed a rivalry with richer and more connected local smugglers from an upper caste. He had been missing since Sunday evening, and his body had been found early on Monday morning with his leg chopped off.
Local reports quoted one of his neighbours as saying: "Sukhchain was returning home with his friends when he was attacked by the rival group around 8.30 pm. They thrashed him mercilessly and took him away. Later, his body was recovered from the house of one of the accused, Balbir Singh, around 10 pm. One of his legs had been chopped off, and it was missing, while his body bore several injury marks."
His kin, who say the upper-caste men had earlier threatened Singh with dire consequences if he did not stop his trade, are now refusing to allow the authorities to conduct his post-mortem examination — something that is essential for the determination of time of death, cause of death and other key factors in such cases. They are saying that they will let the examination be conducted only after Singh's missing leg is found.