A local cable operator attempted to commit suicide right in the presence of judges of the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana high court during a seminar organised by the Telecom and Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) at a hotel here on Saturday.
Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Baba Sahib Chowk, consumed a pesticide in order to draw the attention of the members of TDSAT, including the judges, to his alleged harassment at the hands of a powerful lobby that controls the cable network business in the city. When he tried to highlight his problem, apparently no one paid attention, following which he took out a pesticide from his pocket and emptied it in his mouth.
According to eyewitnesses, the victim collapsed and the police took him to a private nursing home. Doctors have described his condition as serious.
Among the judges present were Justice Aftab Alam, chairperson, TDSAT; Justice SK Mittal and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, both members. TDSAT is an authority that hears complaints against landline and mobile phone providers (companies) as well as against providers of cable networks.
Jaswinder was among the 23 people (cable operators) who have filed a joint complaint against the company that controls the cable network signals in the city. A number of cable operators have been at loggerheads with this company over the past few years.
The local judiciary, including district and sessions judge Gurbir Singh, was also present.
Police officials confirmed the recovery of a suicide note written in Punjabi from the possession of Jaswinder. A number of colleagues of the victim, who are in the same business, also confirmed this.
In the note, the victim alleged that he was forced to take the extreme step as no one was willing to hear his grievance. In the note, he claimed that his cable business collapsed after a local Akali leader backed by a powerful lobby of cable operators took over the cable network business in his area. This resulted in his business collapsing, causing him losses.
In the note, Jaswinder has named some persons for being allegedly responsible for his financial woes. Among the names mentioned is that of an individual who is among those who control the cable networking business in Punjab.
Cable operators protest
Meanwhile, a number of local cable operators under the banner of Amritsar Cable Operators Sangharsh Committee came out in support of Jaswinder. A number of those on this committee have similar grievances as those of the victim.
In a written complaint forwarded to the police commissioner, Balbir Kaur, the wife of the victim, has alleged that her husband had been facing harassment since he was named as a witness in the infamous Siti Cable Sex Scandal of 2003 which was probed by the CBI.
She claimed that one of the accused in this scandal was currently controlling the cable network business in Punjab.
She has demanded the registration of a case against those named in the suicide note and their immediate arrest. However, the police are yet to register an FIR. According to officials, the matter is "under investigation and the case will be registered later".