Mansa/Gurdaspur: A 20-year-old Dalit youth, allegedly involved in illicit liquor trade, was tortured to death and his leg chopped off by rivals, drawing condemnation from the opposition Congress, which alleged the perpetrators had links to the ruling Akali Dal.
A case of murder has been registered against six persons, including a Dalit, in connection with the incident, police said on Wednesday.
Police said the incident was a fallout of inter-gang rivalry and that the two groups had been involved in clashes in the past, too.
The victim Sukhchain Singh and his friends were called by the other group on the pretext of settling a dispute on Monday.
"Then they attacked Sukhchain and his friends with sharp edged weapons on Monday night. Though Sukhchain's friends managed to flee, the other group brutally killed Sukhchain with sharp edged weapon," Mansa SSP Mukhwinder Singh said today.
His body was recovered from the house of Balbir, one of the accused, police said.
There were injury marks on the body of Sukhchain and his leg was also found chopped off, police said adding efforts are on to trace the missing limb.
The murder acquired political overtone with Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh accusing the Parkash Singh Badal government of "unleashing a reign of terror" against Dalits in the state.
Amarinder, locked in a bitter war of words with the Akali leadership, cited media reports to claim that two of the accused had links with the ruling party. He said they were the nephews of Gharanghna sarpanch whose father was the driver of the Punjab Chief Minister.
"Dalits in the state are feeling extremely insecure and fear for their safety under the SAD rule," he said, expressing shock and concern at the situation.
"These developments can have serious consequences for the future of Punjab," he warned, adding that the Badal government was "meticulously destroying" the secular character and peaceful environment of the state.
"It is clear that these atrocities are being committed against Dalits in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt, by those having the patronage of the SAD leadership," he alleged and attacked state BJP president Vijay Sampla, also a Dalit, for being a "mute spectator" to the "excesses".
A similar incident was reported in the state last year when a Dalit Bheem Tank and his friend, Gurjant Singh, were allegedly attacked with sharp-edged weapons in Abohar in Fazilka. Bheem's limbs were chopped off and he had later died in hospital.