Concern about the safety of her unborn child is keeping 30-year-old Rajwinder Kaur away from her home at Achintkot village near Attari.
The fear that her unborn child may be harmed in case she goes back to the village lurks in her mind. “How can I forget the humiliation I suffered,” she said while narrating the May 26 incident that left six members of her Scheduled Caste community injured.
Talking to the media at the office of the District Congress Committee, Amritsar (rural), here on Friday, Rajwinder said, “I was taking a bath when two to three people dragged me out of the house. My clothes were taken away and as I was being dragged one of the attackers talked about parading me naked in the village to teach our community a lesson.”
While under attack, Rajwinder’s foremost concern was her unborn child. As she was being pulled out of her house, she squatted on the floor and used her legs to protect her stomach. Despite the kicking and slapping, she did not allow any blow to land on her stomach. She was finally rescued by her husband and another relative.
Her husband, Satnam Singh, is still recovering from the multiple injuries he received when an armed mob, comprising mostly of people from other villages, descended on Achintkot and targeted eight to nine Dalit families. Led by Punjab Police head constable Zorawar Singh, the mob left six people injured.
It was a planned attack with the target being the Dalit families who support the Congress. The allegation levelled against them was that their houses were built illegally on panchayat land. In fact, the victim families had sounded the police of a possible attack.
Victims go into hiding
The victims have gone into hiding as they fear that if they return home they might again be targeted and implicated in false criminal cases.
Like Rajwinder, Kulwinder Singh, Gurdev Singh and a number of others have refused to go back home and want police protection for their families. They have also threatened to stage a dharna if the attempt-to-murder section is not added in the FIR as some of the accused, including Zorawar, had allegedly fired shots and threatened to kill them.
“Zorawar is close to an Akali minister and for the last seven to eight years has been threatening to teach us a lesson if we remained with the Congress. While some Dalit families under threat did join the Akalis, we refused,” claimed Kulwinder.He claimed that the head constable had implicated a number of Dalits in false cases.
One such Dalit who had an attempt-to-murder case slapped against him was Gurdev Singh and he spent some time at the Amritsar central jail two years back. In the last seven years, Gurdev also had a number of civil cases, pertaining to land grabbing, registered against him. But he has won most of these cases in court.
Gurdev and his family are currently residing in the city as they fear that if they went back, the head constable could implicate them in false cases.
State SC Commission intervenes, cop suspended
Fearing that matters could go out of hand, the Punjab State Commission for SCs visited Achintkot to get firsthand information of the May 26 incident. Members of the commission also met the injured in hospital here and also talked to the victim families, including Rajwinder.
On the recommendations of the commission, the police added sections 354-B (molestation) and 452 (house trespass) to the FIR which initially was registered under Sections 323, 324, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC and Sections 3/4 of the SC/ST Act.
On the attempt-to-murder charges, Amritsar rural SSP Jasdeep Singh said Section 307 of the IPC would be added after getting the medico-legal report. He said Kulwinder had been suspended with immediate effect.
SC commission chairman Rajiv Bagha who met the media after meeting the victims described the incident as unfortunate. He said every effort would be made to ensure the safety of all in Achintkot and if need be, protection would be given to them. He hoped that after the injured were discharged all affected families would go back to their homes.
Bagha said the victim families would be compensated and the medical charges of the injured would be borne by the district administration.