The Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes’ assurance to provide justice to a group of Dalits at Achintkot village came to a naught when the Amritsar rural police in a swift move registered a counter case against members of the group — all of them are Congress loyalists.
On May 26, a rival group reportedly supported by the Akalis and led by a head constable of the Punjab Police attacked some Dalit families with sharp-edged weapons and firearms, in which six people, including a woman, were injured.The head constable has since been suspended.
Pressure from the Congress and the SC body had led police to register a case against 14 people, including the suspended head constable under sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 323 (escape from confinement or custody negligently suffered by public servant), 324 (resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension), 326 (repealed) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and various sections of the SC/ST Act.
Later, on the instructions of the Punjab SC body, sections 354-B (molestation) and 452 (house trespass) were added to the FIR registered at the Gharinda police station.
SC body chairman Rajiv Bagga had met the aggrieved families at the village and assured them of justice as well as compensation. He had also instructed senior superintendent of police (Amritsar rural) Jasdeep Singh to provide protection to the Dalits at the village.
Counter case registered
Just as everything was settling down at Achintkot, a border village near Attari, the affected families received a jolt when police registered a counter case against 33 people, more than double the number that were booked from the rival group on the day of the clash. The case was registered on Monday under sections 326, 323, 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 447 (punishment for criminal trespass), 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC and various sections of the Arms Act and the SC/ST Act at the Gharinda police station.
Confirming this, Attari deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Daljit Singh Dhillon told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that the case was registered on the complaint of Kewal Singh, a Dalit of the village.
In the FIR, the complainant claimed that village sarpanch Amrik Singh, also a Dalit, was attacked by a group of villagers when he had gone to stop them from taking possession of panchayati land. One of the people who attacked the sarpanch was Gurmukh Singh, who also had a gun.
Congress demands withdrawal of case
The Congress has threatened to gherao the Gharinda police station if the counter case was not withdrawn. The party said the case was “fabricated” and registered to “pressurise the Congress supporters to compromise”.
“The counter case was registered on the instructions of an Akali minister,” alleged Amritsar (rural) District Congress chief Gurjit Singh Aujla.
“On the day of the clash, the Akali-supported group had gone to Guru Nanak Hospital after inflicting injuries on their own supporters. However, after seeing Raj Kumar Verka, vice-chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, at the hospital, the doctors refused to examine them for preparing a Medico Legal Report (MLR),” said Aujla.
Aujla alleged that the complainant, Kewal Singh, was among the six people who had sought an MLR on the bases of self-inflicted injuries. The cops had arrested them as their names figured in the FIR registered on May 26.
The DSP, however, defended the registration of the counter case, saying “the complainant was injured in the attack by his rivals”.