September 24, 9:45am: Shruti, 16, is kidnapped at gunpoint from her house at Dogar Basti here. Second time in three months, the same man is her abductor. She remains untraced.
On Monday, her neighbours couldn't resist the kidnappers armed with guns and iron rods. Her family, especially her parents, took serious injuries in trying to save her. The assailants dragged her out the house by hair and bundled her into a Ford Icon car in full public view. The gang fired shots to intimidate the neighbours and onlookers.
It all happened a few yards from Sadar police station. For more than half an hour then, the gang's car was struck in a street drain, but it was least afraid. People watched in silence. No one intervened. The police failed to reach the site in time in spite of distress calls.
The girl's parents, only ones to resist the attackers, are injured critically. Shruti's father, Ashwini Kumar Sachdeva, fell unconscious during the assault.
Her mother, Seema, an employee at Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), was bleeding when she walked into the police station. That got the cops moving at last, an hour after the crime. Shruti's parents landed at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot, where they continue to be under treatment.
Shuruti is a Class-10 dropout of a prominent private school in the city; and her kidnapper is a notorious gangster at 20, facing many criminal charges and enjoying political patronage. The last time he abducted her, she was saved after a month.
After common citizens of Faridkot protested outside the city police station, the kidnapper, Nishan Singh Brar, was charged under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 452 (house trespass after preparation for assault and kidnapping), 363 (kidnapping), 366-A (procreation of minor girl), 323 (causing injuries voluntarily), 348 (wrongful confinement), and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and various Sections of the Arms Act. His mother, Navjot Kaur, and some unidentified accomplices are also charged. The city police station house officer and his two subordinates were given suspension order.
Culprit armed and dangerous
The townsfolk say the police are scared of gangster Nishan Singh, who is said to be running the city's drug mafia and illegal sales of firearms that come to him from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He has a criminal background of murder and kidnapping (19 cases, a senior police officer has confirmed), but under police and political patronage, he has escaped the law every time.
The police seem to be doing nothing indeed to trace the abducted girl. There has been no arrest.
Nishan Singh kidnapped Shruti also on June 25. Her family lodged the case at Faridkot, but the police took no action, for some politician shielded the criminal.
On July 27, the police restored Shruti to her family after more than a month. They found her in a raid on a hideout that the culprit had abandoned minutes ago.
Chain of events
September 24: Shruti is kidnapped; case registered
September 25: Common citizens of Faridkot form a joint action committee to oppose police station, protest outside the city police station. Punjab Congress general secretary Kushaldeep Dhillon and his supporters join the protest. Deputy superintendent of police Kashmir Kaur seeks two days for the culprit's arrest. Senior superintendent of police Gurinder Singh Dhillon agrees to supervise the case.
September 26: The protest outside the city police station continues; candlelight vigil organised to highlight the crime
September 27: Protest march on streets, call for Faridkot bandh; SSP declared bounty of Rs 1 lakh for any tip to the whereabouts of the kidnapper and issues public notice in newspapers.
September 28: Complete shutdown in Faridkot; slogans raised against the police; leaders of ruling party blamed; people report kidnapper Nishan Singh Brar roaming freely; local legislator Deep Malhotra raises the issue with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal; other ruling party leaders remain silent; Punjab Congress president captain Amarinder Singh also criticises the role of the district administration and police and the state government, says criminal patronised by local Akali leaders
September 29: Another dharna outside the city police station. Protesters get support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and agricultural trade unions. Call for a big rally on Monday.
Close to arresting suspect, says SSP
The police claim they are close to cracking the case. "We will arrest the culprit and trace the girl very soon," senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurinder Singh Dhillon stated here on Saturday. "We have recovered the kidnappers' getaway car, a Ford Icon, from Moga."
A Chandigarh woman, Agayapal Kaur, has sold that car for Rs 1.25 lakh to Nishan Singh and was yet transfer its papers to him. The police have recovered the duplicate registration number plate put on the car during the crime, besides and some identity proofs of Nishan Singh. SSP Dhillon refuted the allegation of political pressure on the police. "I'll not bow to any political pressure," he said. "We'll have Nishan Singh handcuffed."
Nishan Singh Brar
Prize: Rs 1.25 lakh
Call: 7837018005 (Kashmir Kaur, DSP, detective, Faridkot), 7837018041 (Jagdish Lal, inspector, CIA)