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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Akalis, police under lens for vendetta on poll day

Manpreet Randhawa, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 16, 2014
First Published: 13:30 IST(16/5/2014) | Last Updated: 13:32 IST(16/5/2014)

Not only do they allege one-sided cases lodged for the April 30 poll-day violence in Punjab, but Congress workers even allege inaction in matters where the state’s ruling Akalis were booked.

Several of them in hiding after cases registered against them, opposition workers allege that henchmen of the ruling Akali-BJP regime tried to create fear psychosis in several districts, including in Gurdaspur and Patiala, on that day to suppress antiincumbency.

Not very different from what happened in Malwa, in these districts, too, the Akali strategy was to keep the weaker sections and women away from booths, say the Congressmen and sources from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

And the police allegedly played in the hands of their political masters, lodging attempt-to-murder cases against the Congressmen for minor skirmishes. Some cases were lodged against the Akalis too.

But, now, instead of pursuing the cases legally, the police are allegedly pressurising these workers and their families to strike a compromise with the Akalis so that the cross-cases are buried quietly.

A case in point is from Lukmania village in Dera Baba Nanak segment, in Gurdaspur LS constituency, where Akali sarpanch Harbhajan Singh’s nephew Jagdeep Singh allegedly shot Paramjit Singh, a Congress polling agent, in the stomach.

It happened after Paramjit reportedly confronted Harbhajan at the booth when the latter slapped two voters from a minority community. Paramjit is still undergoing treatment at Amritsar.

Though the police booked Jagdeep, his father Gurbaksh Singh and Harbhajan Singh, besides three others, for attempt to murder, the conduct of the police has raised questions.

To begin with, the police failed to have Jagdeep’s weapon deposited, as is mandatory during poll time. Further, Angrej Singh, uncle of Paramjit, told HT that co-accused Gurbaksh had got himself admitted in the Batala civil hospital “by inflicting injuries on himself ”: “Now his plan is to register a counter-case with the help of the police.”

In Jalalabad, the assembly constituency of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the police forcibly got Harcharan Singh, whose wife and son are Congress workers, discharged from Muktsar civil hospital and got him lodged him in jail on charges of attacking local Akali leader Devinder Babbal with an intent to kill.

“Now the police are putting pressure on us to strike a compromise with the Akalis, so that in the subsequent inquiry the police can save their skin from the Election Commission,” said Malkiat Singh Hira, the Congress leader who lost to Sukhbir in 2012.

But deputy inspector general (DIG) of police, Ferozepur range, Amar Singh Chahal, dismissed the contentions and said the police had already ordered a probe: “The law will take its own course and we will ensure justice for all, irrespective of their party affiliations.”

The AAP also had to bear the brunt. In a prominent case, in Patiala, Akali councillor Rajinder Singh Virk thrashed AAP candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi at the Rasulpur Saidan polling booth.

Gandhi said Akalis attacked him because the AAP had dared to put up a counter at Rasulpur Saidan.

Local Akalis leaders including Harmel Singh Tohra , Charanjit Singh Rakhra and Gurpreet Singh Raju Khanna expressed solidarity with Virk and even garlanded him when he came out on bail after two days.

Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, the party’s c andidate from Ferozepur, had already knocked the door of the state director general of police and the Election Commission.

He said, “Unfortunately, the police work with the mindset that they are accountable only to their political bosses.

Therefore, they fail to deliver justice.” “But we will not let the Akalis go scot-free this time.

Only impartial inquiries can ascertain the political vendetta unleashed on polling day,” he added.

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