Three couples from the neighbourhood are charged with abetting the suicide of a woman, Rajpal Kaur "Preet", 35, who had objected to their stealing electricity and survived a serious assault.
Rajpal Kaur hanged herself from a ceiling fan on Thursday (March 7) in a police quarter here. Omparkash, special police officer here, and his wife, Pushpa Devi; Kuldeep Singh, a jawan in Home Gurads, and his wife, Parmjeet Kaur; and head constable Sharnjeet and his wife, Parmjeet; all of whom Rajpal had as neighbours, were on Tuesday named as suspects in a case registered on the complaint of the victim's husband, Bhola Singh, and based on what is believed to be the suicide note.
The failure of the police to intervene in time to stop Rajpal's neighbours from stealing electricity is alleged to have cost a life. "Four families, including mine, live in the old quarters at Police Lines. The three couples had been harassing my wife for long because we had asked them not to steal electricity by tampering with meters," said Bhola Singh, who is special police officer (SPO) assigned to do errands for the senior superintendent of police in Faridkot.
The electricity meters alleged to have been tinkered are on the east side of the police quarters. "Earlier, we also stole electricity," said Bhola Singh. "The three families continued to do it and we feared we might be penalised as well, if Powercom ever raided the place."
Two women now suspects in the case had called Rajpal to their quarters on January 1, where she was hit on the head with a stick. She was moved from the Faridkot Civil Hospital to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College. "We were told about a case made out under Section 323 (punishment for causing injuries voluntarily) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) but the suspects ganged up and the matter was suppressed," said Bhola Singh. "Sub inspector Ranjeet Singh was supposed to be the investigating officer. We had reached no compromise with the assaulters."
After the incident, Bhola's sister and mother took the complaint to the senior superintendent of police. "In spite of the SSP's instructions, there was no action," said Gurpal Kaur, sister of Rajpal Kaur. The SPO's wife then went to her parents and when she came back last week, the harassment resumed. "One of the women pulled the electricity wires off her water-supply motor and threatened to block the supply of water to her toilet as well," said Gurpal Kaur.
"They also hurled caste remarks at us," said Bhola Singh. "Extreme harassment forced my wife to commit suicide. The women would sit in front of our quarter and pass intolerable remarks at her whenever she stepped out to get milk or something," said Gurpal Kaur. "They called her 'kulehni' (whose face is inauspicious), so she would drop curtains on the windows to hide herself. She paid the price of daring to stop them from stealing electricity, even though she was from a lower caste."
The quarters were deserted on Tuesday, as all the suspects had fled. Rajpal's family lived on the first floor, where it had moved into quarter 1A only six months ago. Rajpal has left behind son, Lovepreet Singh, 15, who is in a private school in Class 11, and daughter, Harpreet Kaur, who is in Class 8 at a school in Sadak.
The case against all six suspects was registered after proper investigation and after going through the suicide note, senior superintendent of police Gurpreet Singh Toor has stated. "We will arrest them and Rajpal's family will get justice."