Local cable operator Jaswinder Singh Jassi (40), who had attempted suicide on Saturday, died at a private hospital here on Monday.
Jassi had consumed a pesticide during a meeting of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) in the presence of judges of the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana high court.
He had taken the extreme step to register his protest before the judges, who are TDSAT members, against his alleged harassment at the hands of some top officials of Fastway Cables and their associates, whom he had termed as the cable mafia that operated with government backing. He had alleged that this mafia had taken over the cable network business in the Baba Sahib Chowk area adjoining the Golden Temple, as a result of which he had suffered huge financial losses by way of losing a large number of customers.
Jassi had approached the judges and other TDSAT members to highlight his problems and those of other cable operators. About 23 of them, including Jassi, had jointly filed a complaint against Sarabjit Singh Raju, local incharge of Fastway Cables, and others. After the judges allegedly did not pay heed to his pleas, Jassi took out a bottle and consumed its contents, even as nobody tried to stop him.
Among the judges present were justice Aftab Alam (retd), chairperson, TDSAT; justice SK Mittal of the high court and justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Supreme Court, both members. TDSAT is an authority that hears complaints against landline and mobile phone providers (companies) as well as against providers of cable networks.
‘Hounded by accused’
Jassi was a witness in the 2003 Siti cable sex scandal, in which Raju is the main accused. The case is currently being heard by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Patiala.
In his suicide note, Jassi had alleged that Raju had been harassing him. Following threats from Raju, Jassi and several others had turned hostile and even deposed in favour of the accused. The note also named local Akali leader Pritpal Singh Lalli.
Jassi’s family members claimed that Raju had approached the CBI court with the plea that he should be allowed to depose again in the case as his earlier statement was given under duress. However, the high court had struck down his plea.
“Jassi’s son Prabhjot was also being threatened by Raju’s henchmen,” alleged Bhupinder Singh, Jassi’s elder brother.
Family slams Punjab govt, cops
The family of the deceased, along with friends and relatives, marched in a procession with Jassi’s body through the narrow bazaars of the walled city. They raised slogans against the Punjab government as well as the accused and demanded justice.
Several cable operators of the city also joined the protest against Raju and Fastway Cables and demanded the arrest of the accused.
“Sukhbir Singh Badal (deputy CM) should get Raju and others arrested. He should stop passing instructions to the cops not to arrest the accused,” said an angry Bhupinder while talking to the media.
Jassi’s wife Balbir Kaur, son Prabhjot and daughter Simarpreet, too, vent out their anger against the state government, the cops and the cable mafia.
“Raju has the money power and influence to buy off anyone. That is why no justice has been done in the sex scandal case so far,” Balbir said.
The family at first refused to cremate the body and sat on dharna on the Gurdwara Shaheedan Road. They demanded the arrest of Raju and Lalli. However, following an assurance by assistant deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) Ketan Patil, the family cremated the body. Patil assured the family that the accused would be arrested in 48 hours.
The local police issued a lookout circular for Raju and Lalli, citing the possibility that they may try to flee the country.
When asked about the allegations against the local police of a biased approach, Amritsar police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said, “We will do everything to arrest all those named in the FIR.”
Aulakh claimed that raids had already been conducted at the residences of Raju and Lalli and also at the local Siti Cable office.
On Gurdip Singh’s (Fastway managing director) name figuring in the FIR, the commissioner said, “We are trying to find out whether he has been blamed for the extreme step.”
‘Fast’ and dubious
·On the basis of Jassi’s suicide note, police had initially registered a case under sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 501 (attempt to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (after Jassi’s death, section 501 has been removed from the FIR)
· Those whose names figure in the FIR are Gurdip Singh, managing director (MD), Fastway Cables; Sarabjit Singh Raju, local incharge of Fastway; and Akali leader Pritpal Singh Lalli. Two unidentified persons are also mentioned.
· The suicide note blames Raju and Lalli for the extreme step, while there is a reference to Gurdip
· Jassi was a witness in the Siti Cable sex scandal, which rocked Amrisar in 2003. Raju is the main accused in the case. The latter and others were allegedly involved in providing call girls to bureaucrats and police officers in return for favours. The case is currently being heard by a CBI court in Patiala.
The victim, who had attempted suicide by consuming pesticide on Saturday, claimed that Pritpal, whose wife is a councillor of the Amritsar municipal corporation, had set up his own parallel cable network business with the backing of Raju in the Baba Sahib Chowk area of the city-where Jaswinder too ran his business-which had ruined him financially and brought hardships to his family. He claimed that Raju had nursed a grudge against him, as he was witness in the 2003 infamous 'Siti Cable Sex Scandal' case, which was probed by the CBI and in which Raju is one of the prime accused.
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