In violence after the panchayat elections, Class-12 student Pavitar Singh, 21, was allegedly killed by police inspector Gurcharan Singh on Wednesday night at Chait Singh Wala village, 10 kilometres from here.
Pavitar was killed outside the polling station when the supporters of senior youth leader Parmbans Singh Romana allegedly turned violent when the rival candidate Parminder Singh, who has the support of Faridkot legislator Deep Malhotra, was declared winner.
"My son was only standing outside the polling station at about 11.15pm on Wednesday when the police inspector shot him from his official vehicle at the orders of candidate Parminder Singh," said Lakhwinder Singh, a baptised Sikh and father of Pavitar Singh. "The cops fled. My son was gone in seconds," he added, hardly able to hold his tears.
"In our village, Inderjeet Singh, supported by Romana, and Parminder Singh, supported by Deep Malhotra, were in contest for sarpanch," said villager Sukhmander Singh. "Parmidner Singh was declared winner but we asked for a recount. The polling officials declined our request, forcing us to protest. The Parminder group called the police and when they arrived, it tried to carry all the ballot boxes to Faridkot without recount," the villager added.
"The police officer shot Pavitar without any warning and provocation. He was only standing close to the police vehicle," said a villager. "Fleeing after the crime, one of the policemen fell off the vehicle and we don't know if he was able to get back in," he added.
In the commotion after the firing, the groups pelted each other with bricks and stones. A villager has alleged that inspector Gurcharn Singh was drunk when he shot the student who had gone to him with a request to be heard. "People did not damage any police vehicle before the firing. Later in the group clash, it might have happened, because the police car was caught between the two warring sides," said a villager.
The situation did not warrant any shooting, people have said. The youth was shot in the chest from close range in the second poll-violence incident between the supporters of Malhotra and Romana, Akali leaders who had fielded parallel candidates at many places.
In Rupian Wala village on Friday night last week, 12 people were injured in a firing incident when the groups had clashed over the election of sarpanch.
Police vehicle damaged: SSP
Police have registered a murder case against inspector Gurcharan Singh and candidate Parminder Singh. "The police officer is on the run and we'll suspend him," said Gurmeet Singh Randhawa, senior superintendent of police at Faridkot.
Presiding officer Parveen Kumar, constable Surinder Kumar and Home Guards jawan Mehal Singh were also injured in the violence. "The condition of Mehal Singh is serious and so an attempt to murder case has also been registered," said the SSP.The officer said the mob had damaged a police vehicle and a bus deployed to ferry members of the polling staff, and pelted the police with stones.
'No groups, all Akalis'
The two leaders whose supporters had fought have denied seeing each other as rival. "There are no groups. We all are the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), I have nothing to do with the incident, though what happened is unfortunate," said Romana."
"We have won 64 panchayat elections out of 72 and if someone works against the party, the high command will take notice. I do not believe in groups, and to me all are Akalis. The indicent is very unfortunate," said Deep Malhotra.