Two days after the arrest of a youth on a charge of assaulting Nalagarh sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Yunus, hundreds of villagers, including members of panchayat, on Saturday held a mahapanchayat in his support.
The mahapanchayat said Makhan Singh booked on a charge of attempt to murder the SDM, who has cracked down on the illegal sand mafia, was framed in a "false" case.
Villagers assembled at a vegetable market ground here in and resolved unanimously to take up the issue with the Himachal Pradesh government on the ground that Makhan Singh not only belong to a poor family but his past record showed that he never indulged in any unlawful activity.
On a complaint of the Nalagarh mining inspector, police lodged an FIR, in which it was stated that the incident took place when a joint team of police and officials had carried out a raid near Sarsa bridge and intercepted a tractor-trolley carrying mining material on August 7.
The mining inspector said that after noticing the SDM and raiding party, Makhan Singh of Dhang village allegedly slowed down the vehicle and tried to hit the official vehicle of the SDM. After this, the accused pulled the pressure liver of the tractor-trolley and unloaded small boulders on the road, possibly with an intention to block the movement of officials' vehicles.
The tractor-trolley (HP-12E-4377), however, overturned and the driver fled the spot. Later, the police arrested the accused and impounded the vehicle.
The Saturday's meeting that lasted more than three hours and attended by farmers of nearby villagers decided that Makhan Singh was implicated in a false case with a motive to gain cheap popularity in the eyes of the media and appease political bosses.
Expressing concern at the style of functioning of certain officials, the mahapanchayat alleged that officials were not only misusing their position but also misusing law against hapless locals. Villagers demanded that the government should intervene in the matter as the incident had painted a bad picture of Himachal at the national-level. Since Himachal is a peaceful state, action should be initiated within the purview of law instead of making mountain out of a molehill, the mahapanchayat said.
"We have decided unanimously to take up the issue with the Baddi superintendent of police on Monday. If the case is not withdrawn, we will intensify our agitation against police and Nalagarh administration,' Bhag Singh Saini said.
He further said that villagers were not against lawful action against the person involved in illegal mining and related activities in the region but officials had no right to implicate a hapless village youth in a false case.
The mahapanchayat demanded that police official should look into all aspects before registering any case of such nature as it would vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the region. Registering a case merely on the basis of a statement of any complainant should not be believed as final evidence, the mahapanchayat added.