A day after she was thrown off a bus along with her mother by a group of men trying to molest them, a 13-year-old girl died of her injuries in Punjab’s Moga district on Thursday.
A preliminary inquiry by the Punjab Police also revealed that the girl and her 36-year old mother, were thrown off the speeding vehicle by its driver, conductor and helper — and did not jump off it, as was previously reported.
The three men and a friend have been arrested. The incident led to an uproar in the Lok Sabha with opposition parties denouncing the Parkash Singh Badal government for the law and order situation and questioning deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal’s ownership of the bus.
The Union home ministry has sought a “factual report” from the state government, run by NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal.
Addressing a press conference, Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini said the mother and daughter were thrown off the bus by conductor Sukhwinder Singh, helper Gurdeep Singh and Amarjit Singh, a friend of the conductor and helper. All four have been booked for murder, attempt to murder, outraging the modesty of a woman and criminal conspiracy.
The mother is recovering at Moga civil hospital.
Though Saini said there was no confirmation on whether Orbit Aviations Private Limited, which operated the bus, was owned by deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, IANS quoted CM Parkash Singh Badal as saying: “It is unfortunate that bus belongs to us. Whatever happened is not good. It is the biggest sin.” However, he also said, “I don’t know anything about the bus company. I have nothing to do with it. I have never been to its office.”
“The Badals have much explaining to do,” AAP leader Bhagwant Mann said in the Lok Sabha. Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife and Union minister
Harsimrat Kaur Badal assured action. As protests continued, the Speaker adjourned the House for five minutes.
According to Shinder’s statement, she and her daughter boarded the bus from Moga for Baghapurana at 4pm on Wednesday. Following an altercation over ticket pricing, the driver stopped the bus at a toll barrier and Amarjit came on board. The mother and daughter then were subjected to lewd gestures and comments. They were thrown off the bus while crossing Gill village. Further investigation is on.
The incident, which highlighted the lack of security for women in public transport, took place on Wednesday evening near Gill village in Moga, over 150km from capital Chandigarh. The girl, a Class 9 student and her mother had boarded the bus in Moga town.
Their cries for help went unheeded, and a little while later the woman and her daughter were thrown off the moving bus, the police FIR said.
“No one in the bus came to the rescue of the victims. There were not many passengers in the bus when the incident happened,” an eyewitness is said to have told police.
Punjab police chief Sumedh Saini said a case of murder under section 302 and other relevant sections including 307 (attempt to murder), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 34 (common intention) of IPC has been registered in connection with the incident. The bus has been impounded.
(With agency inputs)