Police in Punjab's Mansa on Wednesday arrested three of the six people accused of murdering a Dalit youth in the district, The Indian Express reported. Sukchain Singh Pali, an alleged alcohol smuggler, was killed on Monday in what police said was the result of an inter-gang rivalry.
Investigators also recovered Pali's leg from a field, which his murderers had chopped off. His body was found in the house of one of the accused. Police said rival gang members had called Pali and some of his friends for a meeting to settle a dispute, according to PTI. "Then they attacked Sukhchain and his friends with sharp-edged weapons," Mansa Senior Superintendent of Police Mukhwinder Singh said, adding that the rival group killed Pali with the weapon even as his friends managed to flee the scene. According to officials, the two groups had clashed previously, as well.
The arrests were made even as Pali's family alleged that Shiromani Akali Dal MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder was protecting the perpetrators. His family refused to allow doctors to conduct an autopsy on his body, claiming that his attackers belonged to upper caste families who had considerable influence in the region, according to Firstpost. They also demanded Rs 20 lakh as compensation, a job for a family member and the inclusion of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, in the case.
Bhunder, however, denied any links with the accused, saying that he was not aware of the details of the murder. "For this heinous crime, strictest punishment should be given to the culprits," the Rajya Sabha MP said. Political parties also condemned the incident, with state Congress chief Amarinder Singh echoing the family's allegations that the accused had links with the SAD, PTI reported. Aam Aadmi Party Punjab convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich said the Punjab Police was failing to provide security to the people of the state.