The role of Punjab Police in investigating the riots that took place in 2009 after a Ravidassia sect leader was allegedly killed in a clash in Vienna has come under the scanner as till now there has been conviction only in a single case out of the 75 FIRs of riots and damage to private and public properties filed across Punjab.
According to the data available with the Vienna Kand Sangharsh Committee, which was verified by HT from the police, till date, of total 75 FIRs, 30 cases were sent to the court as untraced and trial in them never began. Only 45 cases were sent to the court for trial. Interestingly, all accused have been freed by court in 19 of them citing “lack of evidence” on the part of police.
Most of these FIRs were registered on the complaint of police officials posted in different police stations during the riots in which the Ravidassia community reacted aggressively resulting in damage to private and public properties worth hundreds of crores.
Jalandhar was the epicentre of the clashes in which two persons were killed and hundreds were injured following the attack on Sant Niranjan Das, the head of Dera Sachkhand Ballan at Jalandhar, and his deputy Sant Ramanand at Vienna in Austria on May 24, 2009. Ramanand had succumbed to his injuries on May 25, 2009. As many as 149 people are still under trial in 25 cases pending in the courts of Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, SBS Nagar, Muktsar and Amritsar.
After the news of his death spread, the dera followers, even during a curfew in Jalandhar, had forcibly evacuated 19 coaches of Jammu-Tawi Express and set afire three coaches in front of police and Army, which was also deployed during the curfew, on May 25, 2009. According to a senior police official posted in Jalandhar who is looking after these cases, since the state government did not want the accused to be booked because of pressure from the Ravidassia community, weak pleadings in the courts were done by the police and it was the main reason why the accused were set free in most cases.
Meanwhile, the members of the sangharsh committee on Saturday held a press conference here and alleged that the state government was not withdrawing riot-related cases against the accused. “The CM had promised our community in 2009 that all FIRs relating to the case would be cancelled. It did not happen and our children suffered as they were framed by police in cases without any evidence. In the court cases in which the accused have been acquitted in the past two years, these judgments have come after we fought the battle in the court,” said Satish Suman, executive member of the committee.
He said still there were youths who had been made accused in the case and they were unable to move abroad because of no passport clearance. “We appeal to the government to take back all cases. If the government can withdraw many names from the list of dreaded terrorists, why can’t they cancel all FIRs against us,” the committee members said.
Jalandhar was the epicentre of the clashes in which two persons were killed and hundreds were injured
As many as 149 people are still under trial in 25 cases pending in the courts
Only 45 cases were sent to court for trial. All accused have been freed in 19 of them citing ‘lack of evidence’.