A special CBI court sentenced Punjab minister Bibi Jagir Kaur to five years rigorous imprisonment on Friday for conspiring in forcible abortion and abduction of her teenaged daughter, Harpreet Kaur, 12 years ago, who later died under mysterious circumstances.
The senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was, however, acquitted of the murder charge.
The 57-year-old lone woman in chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s cabinet broke down in the court after special CBI judge Balbir Singh announced the sentence. The court also fined her R5,000. Her counsel Satnam Singh Kaler said, “We will approach the high court.”
Before being taken into custody, Jagir Kaur — who headed three departments, including rural water supply and sanitation — put in her papers.
She was taken to Patiala central jail, but later moved to Kapurthala jail on her request.
Harpreet, 19, had died on April 20, 2000, while being taken from Phagwara to Ludhiana’s Christian Medical College and Hospital. Though no autopsy was conducted since her family claimed she had died following severe dehydration, vomiting and fever, the CBI said Harpreet died of an overdose of an anticonvulsant drug.
She was cremated in a hurried manner the next day at Jagir Kaur’s village, Begowal, in Kapurthala.
Harpreet reportedly had a relationship with Kamaljit Singh, who claims he had married her. Kamaljit, who had moved the high court seeking a CBI inquiry into Harpreet’s death, said, “The verdict is a victory of my love for Harpreet.”