The Khushpreet murder case appears to have reached a justified conclusion, with the kidnappers-killers of the five-year-child getting life sentence from a trial court. But should you think enough has been done in the case? No, you must remember that the five-year-old cute Sardarji, lovingly called Khushi, could still have been alive, had the police done what they get salaries for. Amid all the noise, there is still not much being said on the lax police officials.
Before we start shedding tears of sympathy, and smile tragically at how the kid’s parents have given the name Khushpreet to his later-born sister in his memory, remember some facts.
Khushi was abducted from near the family house in Burail village on the evening of December 21, 2010. The same day, the family received a ransom call.
A police team tailed Khushi’s uncle who carried 4 lakh as ransom-cum-bait for the kidnappers to fall into the police net. On the way, the cops lost their way, while Khushi’s uncle ended up paying the money to the kidnappers at Desumajra.
The trap did not exactly work as the police not only lost track of the uncle, but also could not nab the kidnappers as they sped away, hoodwinking nearly two dozen cops. All this in the age of GPS, GPRS and all that!
What’s worse? The cops could not even record any of the 10-odd ransom calls. There were even reports that the cops recorded these calls but the data was lost after one of the police officers got new songs uploaded into the memory card that carried the precious evidence. With it, was lost precious time that was even more vital as Khushi was killed nearly five days after the abduction, his body found on the sixth.
"It is a mockery that when everybody was aware of the ransom call at 4.22pm, the proceedings for lodging the FIR were started after 9pm," said an inquiry report that indicted the cops a fortnight after Khushi died. And that’s just about inspector Narinder Patial, the then Burail police post in-charge.
Leave aside action, in a case of worsening the wounds, this officer was later posted as the station house officer of Sector 34, under which Burail falls, and shifted out only after some residents protested.
The then deputy superintendent of police (DSP), south, Vijay Kumar “underestimated the gravity of the situation”, said the report: “He (Vijay) waited till 2.30 pm (on December 22, a day after the kidnapping) when he himself reached the police post and realised the gravity of the situation.”
It concluded that the then Sector-34 SHO, inspector Uday Pal, did not discharge his duties “in a befitting manner”, and that “sub-inspector Balraj’s statement seems to be a bundle of lies. His response to the complaint of the family was casual and non-serious. His carelessness led to the loss of vital hours.”
Damning enough? Indeed this report led to the DSP’s transfer and suspension of the other three.
But they were reinstated within months, and some got even better postings. While Patial was posted as SHO and is now with the operations cell, Uday Pal is with the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB).
DSP Vijay Kumar died of a heart attack last year and was cremated with full state honours.
Meanwhile, even the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) had asked UT inspector general of police to take departmental action against these cops “at an early date” as a “logical conclusion” of the inquiry.
“The officers found guilty should not be let off lightly,” the PCA order had said. But the PCA’s orders are mere advisories, not binding. The Authority had tried to make up for its lack of actual power with the strength of words.
It said, “No action appears to have been taken by the department as yet against the delinquent and indicted police officers”, and took “strong note” of the fact that the police officers were reinstated. Nothing happened.
Now that the verdict is out, Khushi’s parents might even go to the high court to seek death penalty for the killers. That’s judicial domain. But common sense, propriety and basic humanity dictate that the delinquent police officials get severe punishment too.
Otherwise, how will you hold the cops accountable when your five-year-old child is kidnapped, the police prove to be worthless, and his body is later found in a gunnysack dumped next to a school?