The demand for justice for the two victims of the July 24 police firing in Akalia village received a setback on Thursday when the panchayat withdrew its support to the agitation.
On Thursday, 17 agricultural trade unions protested at the grain market of Akalia when a heavy contingent of police defeated their pre-announced plan of blocking traffic on the Barnala road. The relatives of the victims remain part the protest to which the villagers and panchayat have quit their support.
On July 24, the police had opened fire to control a mob protesting the shielding of some theft suspects it had apprehended. The action led to the death of villagers Pritam Singh (52) and Nittu Singh (16). The government then handed suspension order to the senior superintendent of police and replaced the entire staff of the Joga police station on villagers' demand. No suspect was named in the murder case that was lodged.
The state government compensated the families of the victims with Rs 5 lakh each and jobs. Amrik Singh, a son of Pritam Singh; and Shinder Kaur, mother of Nittu Singh, were appointed peons in different departments.
Ram Singh Bhaini Bhaga, district president of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan); Boota Singh Burjgill, Ruldu Singh Mansa, Jhanda Singh Jethuke and other agricultural trade union leaders protested on Thursday for more than two hours at the village.
"The panchayat of Akalia has quit giving us support, though the victims' families continue to be part of our fight for justice," said Inderjit Singh Jhabbar, president of the Joga unit of the BKU (Ugrahan). "Today we protested in Mansa and next will take the agitation to the state level to see the erring policemen under arrest."
The police had even failed to trace any of the theft suspects who had slipped away, because the relatives of police officials were involved in the crime, said Jhabbar.