The Congress has rejected the magisterial probe ordered by the Punjab government into the beating up of a Dalit girl, her father, brother and a cousin in full public view by the police outside a marriage palace in Tarn Taran on Sunday.
The decision of the Punjab Police to suspend two constables involved in the incident has also not found acceptance with the Congress, which held a protest demonstration along with the residents in the village on Tuesday.
"We reject the inquiry as it is a mere eyewash. When everything has been captured on camera and is in the knowledge of the public, a probe is not required. It is hogwash and aimed at shielding the policemen involved," said Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar after learning about the magisterial inquiry ordered by the government.
On the suspension of the two cops, Jakhar said that suspension was not a punishment for a crime of this nature. Pointing towards the video clippings he had viewed, he said that he counted six policemen and all six of them should be immediately sacked.
"We demand the termination of services of the six policemen. An FIR should be registered against them and they should be immediately arrested. Besides, an FIR should also be registered against the SHO of the Tarn Taran City police station as the father, brother and a cousin of the girl were subjected to inhuman torture at the police station on the directions of the SHO," the CLP leader said while addressing the protesters in the village.
He also demanded suspension of the Tarn Taran SSP, saying he had failed to discharge his duties in a proper manner after learning about the incident.
Jakhar said that after the abduction of a minor girl in Faridkot and the killing of an ASI who tried to save his daughter from goons, the Tarn Taran incident was another blot on the ruling SAD-BJP. "This is yet another shameful incident which has brought disgrace to the government which talks of Punjab being a peaceful state where the crime rate is among the lowest in the country," he said.
"What can be more shameful than the beating up of a Dalit girl, a daughter of an ex-serviceman? We have a lot of respect for a person who has served for the country, but this does not seem to be the case with the government," said Jakhar.
Referring to the police claims that the girl and her father had first grappled with the policemen, Jakhar said that this was no justification for the incident. "The mindset of the Punjab Police remains colonial. The only thing they believe in is the 'lathi' (staff)," he said.
"This is like the raj (rule) of the Taliban, which believes in the eye-for-an-eye policy. The cops here have become the judges as well as the executioners," he said.
Jakhar advised chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to quit if he cannot defend the dignity of daughters of the state. He lamented that neither the CM nor his deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal, had come here so far. He said Sukhbir, who talks of reforms, had done nothing except politicising the police force.
The CLP leader said he did not consider boycott of the upcoming budget session of the assembly as a solution to the problem. He said the Congress would debate the law and order issue in the assembly and highlight this incident.
Jakhar assured Kashmir Singh, the father of the girl, that the Congress would stand by the family.
Congress MLAs Rana Gurjit Singh, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and other Congress leaders also addressed the protesters. Tarn Taran Congress leaders Dharamvir Agnihotri and Harminder Singh Gill had reached the village early to organise the protest, during which effigies of the government were burnt by villagers, who also raised anti-government slogans.