Parliament was rocked on Tuesday over the death of a 13-year-old girl after she was pushed off a bus by her alleged molesters in Punjab’s Moga on April 29 as the Opposition demanded President’s Rule due to a “breakdown of law and order” in the state.
Led by the Congress, opposition parties forced two adjournments in the Rajya Sabha with senior leaders shouting slogans against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose family owned the company to which the bus belonged.
"Life and property of women in Punjab is in danger... President's rule should be imposed," Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said, accusing the state government of taking no action against the culprits.
The teenager’s death sparked widespread protests in the state as the victim’s family refused to cremate her body for days, demanding higher compensation and cancellation of permits to all buses belonging to Orbit Aviation – a company owned by Punjab’s deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal – be taken off the roads.
The central Punjab town saw a tense stand-off as the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party joined the girl’s family and asked for action against the Badal family, eventually forcing Orbit to pull its buses off the roads. The teenager was finally cremated late on Sunday.
The girl’s mother told police that they boarded the bus from Moga at around 4pm last Wednesday and were pushed off the bus after being subject to indecent gestures and lewd comments following an altercation over ticket pricing. Four people were arrested in the case.
Already on the back foot, the Badal government was further embarrassed after a state minister called the incident “God’s will”.
In Parliament, parties like the BSP and the Left joined the Congress in demanding a discussion on the case.
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha the situation in Punjab merited direct intervention of the Centre while her party colleague Anand Sharma said the House should condemn the incident.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, however, said the state government took immediate action against the culprits and it was not proper to discuss the working of state governments in the House.
In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader and former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh said several such incidents had taken place recently, reflecting the worsening law and order situation in Punjab.
“How does a state function? Your economy is in a shambles. Your law and order is in a shambles," he said.