Violence erupted on the Jalandhar-Amritsar national highway after a Libra transport bus crushed a 12-year-old boy to death and seriously injured his cousin near Lamma Pind Chowk on Friday afternoon.
Furious residents of the nearby New Hardyal Nagar and kin of the victims blocked the highway and vandalised the bus. The bus driver, Sandeep Singh of Bangawali village in Sangrur district, fled the scene before the crowd gathered. He was later arrested.
Nishan, 12, a resident of New Hardyal Nagar, and his cousin, Mohit, were crossing the highway under the flyover around 12:30pm when the bus coming from Pathankot Chowk hit them, killing Nishan on the spot and leaving Mohit critically injured. The latter was admitted to Jalandhar civil hospital.
As news of the accident spread, a mob of over 200 people reached the spot and vandalised the bus. They even tried to torch the vehicle but were stopped by the heavy force, including the anti-riot police (ARP), who reached the spot in the meantime.
The agitators then blocked the highway for five hours causing a massive traffic jam, and demanded that the bus driver be produced before them. As tension prevailed in the area, shopkeepers downed their shutters.
Soon the police commissioner, Yurinder Singh Hayer, leading several senior cops, arrived at the spot and tried to pacify the agitators to lift the blockade. However, the protesters refused to budge until the deceased’s family was provided a compensation of Rs 10 lakh.
Chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and Jalandhar north MLA KD Bhandari and additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Girish Dyalan also tried to assuage the situation by offering a financial help of Rs 2 lakh to Nishan’s family and free medical treatment to the injured.
But the agitators remained firm on their demand of a written assurance. The CPS and senior administrative officials then announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 2.5 lakh for Nishan’s family.
However, as the cops tried to remove Nishan’s body from beneath the bus’ tyres, activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti led by president Deepak Kumar Kalia tried to stop them.
When the cops took Kalia aside, his supporters started hurling stones at the cops, forcing the police to cane charge them. But they managed to free Kalia.
The cops and the ARP eventually cordoned off the area and removed the body from the spot, while two JCB machines were called in to remove the vandalised bus.
Senior Congress leader and former Jalandhar north MLA Avtar Henry also held talks with the officials.
Later in the evening, a case under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against bus driver Sandeep Singh.
Besides, Kalia was booked under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and other sections of the IPC.
Blame game begins
CPS Bhandari claimed that even as the situation had turned almost normal, some Congress workers hurled stones at the cops. Condemning the “Congress workers”, Bhandari said it was unfortunate that a teenager’s death was being politicised and policemen were misbehaved with.
However, Henry refuted Bhandari’s claims and termed “his tactics shameful”.