In wake of complete lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Nihang Attack has shocked everyone; the Nihang Sikh Attack, leaving one policeman handicapped and two others injured, led to widespread fear in Patiala, Punjab. Read ahead to know more about who is Nihang Sikh, who is Nihang and Nihang Punjab.
Who is Nihang Sikh?
The ‘Nihang’, also known as ‘immortals, are armed Sikh warriors believed to be the descendants of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s son Sahibzada Fateh Ali Ji. The Nihang are often seen dressed similarly to Sahibzada Fateh Ali Ji. The term ‘Nihang’, Punjab’s earlier military dominators, originates from a Persian word which signifies ‘Mystical Sea Creature’. Nihang Punjab have often been pictured in their traditional dress, known as Khalsa Swarupa. This traditional dress includes an electrifying blue attire (said to be selected by Guru Gobind Singh), edged bracelets of iron around their wrists (known as jangi kara) and ‘chakram’ i.e. quoits of steel tiered on their conical blue turbans. This attire is completed by ‘kirpan’, the traditional dagger carried by all Sikhs. Infamous for being a warrior clan, the traditional swords, buffalo-hide buckler (dhala) and an iron chain form an important part of who is Nihang Sikh.
Today, the Nihang are famous for their high turbans and extensive use of chakram. Nihang Punjab continue to wear miniature versions of weapons in their turbans, including the chakram, khanda (sword), karud (dagger), kirpan and arrow.
Nihang Sikh Attack
The Nihang Attack occurred on April 12, 2020. On Sunday morning, 4-5 Nihang Sikhs travelling aboard a vehicle were asked to stop near Patiala Sabzi Mandi around 6:15 a.m. by Mandi Board officials. In lieu of Punjab being under complete lockdown to prevent the spread of the Novel COVID-19, police officials asked the Nihang Sikhs to show their curfew passes (passes issued by local government permitting citizens to step out when lockdown has been imposed, mostly for delivering or availing essential services). Instead, the Nihang Sikhs crashed their vehicle into the gates and barricades placed to stop transportation. They also went on to attack three of the police officials, one whose hand was chopped with a sword, and two others who were left injured. Total 6 people were left injured post the attack.
After the Nihang Sikh attack occurred, the accused Nihang Sikh members went to seek shelter in a Gurudwara located in Balbera village nearby. As of Sunday afternoon, nine people have been detained from the Balbera Gurudwara. Additionally, sharp objects, automatic weapons and petrol bombs along with INR 35 Lakh in cash have also been recovered from the Gurudwara where the attackers went in search for shelter. Around 20 people have been arrested in connection with this attack. All these arrests were carried out under the supervision of IG Patiala Zone, Jatinder Singh Aulakh.
The policemen injured as a result of this attack include Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Harjeet Singh, whose hand was chopped off by the Nihang Sikhs. ASI Harjeet Singh is currently undergoing plastic surgery at PGIMER, Chandigarh. The Station-House Officer (SHO) of Sadar-Patiala sustained an elbow injury, while the third police officer suffered an arm injury. In total, 6 people suffered injuries during the Nihang Attack.
The local police officials of Balbera Village were commanded to search for the refugees, who were finally found hiding in the Gurudwara. The accused were asked to surrender.
The quick action and response of the Police Party under SI Bikkar Singh received praise from Captain Amarinder Singh, who also went on to give strict instructions to Punjab Police to ensure that anyone fleeting the orders of lockdown by the Punjab Government must face strict action no matter what.
Traditionally known for their bravery and ruthlessness in the battlefield, Nihang Punjab have previously formed guerrilla squads of armed forces known as The Sikh Khalsa Army. They are highly respected by all sections of Sikh society, and in-spite of having separate beliefs, continue to be seen with much affection. While the Nihang order is primarily ceremonial, they are bound by their duty to protect and defend their fellow Sikh people.
In trying times when COVID-19 is taking over lives, Nihang Punjab, expected to be defenders of people, have gone against those officials who are only trying to do their duty, putting their own lives at risk to ensure that the spread of the deadly coronavirus stops. However, the actions of the Nihang Sikhs on April 12, 2020, has gone against their original identity as protectors and warriors. The questions “Who is Nihang Sikh” and “Who is Nihang”, which earlier were answered with pride and dignity, have now been tainted by the Nihang Sikh Attack, which resulted in injury to those who were only trying to protect us. The actions of a few people belonging to Nihang Punjab have painted a shameful and merciless picture of the mighty Nihang Sikhs with the Nihang Attack.
Now that the entire nation is fighting for their lives, we must do our part and comply, instead of fighting the system. Let’s do our part, stay home, pay our respects to those working to protect us, and in this case- pray for a speedy recovery for ASI Harjeet Singh and the two injured police officials.