With Shruti Sachdeva rescued and Nishan Singh arrested, all eyes are now on the Punjab government whether it will act against the police officials who are accused of mishandling the kidnapping case at the initial stage.
The Shruti abduction case has brought into focus the alleged nexus between the Punjab Police and politicians. All the accused in the case were not first-time criminals. In fact, the main accused, Nishan, had 19 criminal cases registered against him. Similarly, another accused, Rajwinder Singh, was also charged with murder. All the accused allegedly enjoyed the patronage of local politicians.
The police were accused of shielding the accused in the case. Shruti's parents had gone to the extent of accusing the police of harassing them by releasing letters allegedly written by Shruti in Nishan's defence. The police also violated the Juvenile Justice Act by releasing the photographs of Shruti with Nishan.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has accepted that there was laxity in investigations on part of the police at the initial stage, and now Faridkot residents want the government to punish all those responsible.
"It is not enough that the police have recovered Shruti and arrested Nishan. We want the government to act against the police officials who tried to shield the culprits. If the government wants to restore the faith of people in the police, it must punish the erring officials to send a strong message across to the police department. Suspending or transferring them is not enough," said Shruti's father Ashwani Sachdeva.
This is not the first case where parents of a kidnapped minor girl have alleged harassment at the hands of the police. Three such cases have come to light in the past one week alone.
An FIR relating to the alleged kidnapping of Ankita, a minor girl from Faridkot, has been lodged at the same city police station in Faridkot, from where the police released Shruti's photographs and letters. Ankita's father Gurmeet Chauhan has also accused the police of harassing him.
Kabranwala police station SHO Gursewak Singh was suspended after he was found mishandling the abduction case of a minor girl from Chappiana Wali village of Muktsar district. The Dalit parents of the girl had accused the police of not lodging a complaint.
Similar allegations were levelled by a couple from Bhagta Bhai Ka after they went to the police station to lodge an FIR with regard to the kidnapping and rape of their minor daughter. The case was registered only after media intervention more than 24 hours later. As a result of the delay in lodging the FIR, all the seven accused managed to abscond.
"The mindset of the police needs to be changed. If the government does not act against the police officials and tries to sabotage the investigations, we will protest again. Had we not protested so strongly, the police would never have tried to trace Shruti," said Mohinder Singh, a resident of Faridkot.
"The police say they did not act against any official during the investigation period because it could have derailed the investigations. Our first concern was to rescue Shruti. The deputy CM has already said that strict action will be taken against the police officials concerned," said Deep Malhotra, the SAD MLA from Faridkot. Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini said the credit for rescuing Shruti goes to the police. "Such investigations take time," he said.