The robust SUVs and the ostentatious lifestyle of friends, who bragged about their political connections, was enough for a high-school dropout to wish for the same lifestyle.
Wanting to become rich and rub shoulders with the who’s-who of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) made Ranjit Singh Rana migrate from his native village to the holy city, where years later he was destined to spill the blood of a father who came out to protect his daughter from Rana and his goons.
He did not care to look back even once at his childhood friends in this village who attended school with him.
Rana lost his parents at an early age. He and his two sisters were brought up by their grandfather, Charan Singh, an ex-serviceman. The marriage of the younger of the two sisters has been fixed for next month.
The family made a reasonable living from the seven and a half acres of land. Villagers told HT here on Friday that Rana got married when he was 20 and was still staying in the village.
“Rana had no political connections when he stayed here. Initially, he worked hard, but under the influence of friends who used to come from Amritsar, he took to consuming liquor and gradually lost interest in farming,” said Nirvair Singh, a villager.
It was two years ago that Rana sold his agricultural land and even his house, which still stands about a kilometre from the village. The new owner, who stays at Naraingarh village, has not demolished the house and occasionally comes here. The price Rana got for the land was Rs. 19 lakh per acre.
So with a handsome amount of Rs. 1.5 crore in his pocket, he made his way to Amritsar and bought a house at Japani Avenue in Chheharta. He became a small-time property dealer and got an arms licence made from the Amritsar Rural police.
“He never visited the village after he left. He did come some months ago for a marriage, which took place in a marriage palace on the main Amritsar-Attari road. Leaving a couple of people from here, no one visited him at Chheharta. We heard rumours that he even used to take drugs,” said Nirvair.
The only relatives Rana has in the village are his uncles, Jyota Singh and Subhej Singh, who have their house adjoining to the one in which Rana used to stay. In fact, both the families after giving their land on contract left the village a couple of years ago due to Rana. While Jyota Singh shifted to Naraingarh, Subheg with his family shifted to Peer Mohammed near Moga. The two returned three months ago to take up farming on their land.
“When Rana became a habitual drinker, he would have friends here every evening. They would dance around and use abusive language. We used to request his grandfather to bring some order in the house but when he failed to do so, we decided to leave as the boys who used to visit him looked the ‘goonda’ types,” Jyota Singh said.
Asked whether he ever thought that his nephew would one day kill someone, Jyota Singh said, “I did not expect him to do this. It was a shameful act, teasing a girl, that too if you are married and then killing her father who had come to defend her honour.”
On Wednesday night, the day ASI Ravinder Pal Singh was killed, a police party from Lopoke came to the village in search of Rana. They took away Subheg, who has still not returned.
“I do not know why they took him. We never got along with Rana. We were happy when he had gone away from here,” said Jyota Singh, who was not at home when the cops came calling.
He showed the mud ‘chullahs’ that had allegedly been destroyed by the cops and even a broken door. He alleged that they took away the quilts the family had.
The Chheharta house of Rana wore a deserted look. A dog barking from inside was the only noise coming from within.
HT learned from the neighbours that the wife and sister of Rana had come here in the morning after being let off by the police. They, however, left soon after without telling anyone. The main gate of the house was locked.
The house was being whitewashed as Rana’s younger sister’s marriage had been fixed for January next year.