The death of a man in an accident near Rupnagar on Thursday allegedly involving a bus of a company owned by the Badal family sparked off a protest and traffic jam.
The accident took place at Chaklan village near Kurali on the Chandigarh-Rupnagar road around 6.15am when 34-year-old Swaran Singh, a resident of Behrampur Zimidara village near here, was returning home on his scooter after doing the night shift at a factory.
Meanwhile, holding a car driver, Brahm Prakash, responsible for the accident, the police have booked him under Section 304-A of the IPC for hitting the scooter.
It was alleged that the Dabwali Transport Company bus with the registration number PB-03V-1900, on its way from Chandigarh to Amritsar, hit the scooter from behind, following which Swaran Singh died on the spot. The scooter was broken into two. The victim leaves behind wife and two children.
As the word spread, the angry villagers gathered on the national highway near Behrampur Zimidara village, sat on a dharna and blocked traffic. The villagers also blocked various link roads. They reportedly raised slogans against the Punjab government and the Badal family. The police had to divert the traffic following the blockade.
While addressing the protesters, the local leaders alleged that the buses belonging to the Badal family were killing people on the roads. They claimed that there appeared to be little effect of the Moga incident on the drivers of the buses owned by the Badals. They claimed that the police did not make any attempt to stop the bus that reached Amritsar.
They demanded the registration of a criminal case under non-bailable sections against the bus driver and owners of the bus, a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the family and a job for a family member of the deceased.
On getting the information, Rupnagar deputy commissioner Tejinderpal Singh Sidhu, acting additional deputy commissioner Surbhi Malik, SDM Tejdeep Singh Saini, SP (investigation) Harmit Singh Hundal and DSP Harbir Singh Atwal reached the spot.
Rupnagar range DIG RK Jaiswal and SSP Varinder Paul Singh monitored the investigations from Singh Bhagwantpur police station. Later in the evening, additional director general of police (crime) Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota also reached the police station.
The deputy commissioner assured the people that a criminal case would be registered. However, the people refused to budge from their demands and were continuing with their dharna till the filing of the report in the evening.
According to eyewitness Jagtar Singh of Sarpanch dhaba, Chaklan, the bus hit the scooter and dragged it to some distance on the road. He alleged that the bus driver did not make any attempt to stop the bus. He claimed that after hitting the scooter the bus turned towards a car on the right side of the road, as a result of which the car driver lost control and the car hit the road divider and fell into a ditch.
However, SSP Varinder Paul Singh said that from the circumstantial evidence it appeared that the car hit the scooter. He claimed that the bus was videographed at Amritsar and enquiries from the passengers revealed that it had not hit anyone.
Those who addressed the dharna included Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra, Punjab Congress Farmers' Cell chairman Inderjit Singh Zira, District Congress Committee president Harbhag Singh Saini, Aam Aadmi Party district convener Gurmail Singh Bara, Bahujan Samaj Party state general secretary Rajinder Singh Raja, Congress leaders Paramjit Singh Pamma and Satwinder Singh Cherrian, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) vice-president Bhag Singh Surtapur and CPM Punjab district secretary Mohan Singh Dhamana.
Later, taking to this correspondent, Chamkaur Sahib MLA Charanjit Singh Channi claimed that the car driver had been falsely implicated in the case and their agitation would continue till the registration of a case against the bus driver and its owners.