A local court on Wednesday acquitted Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) councillor Balbir Singh Bittu and four others in a case involving the murder of Dalit youth Vijay Kumar of Dhilwan village in May 2009, after the prosecution failed to prove charges against the accused.
Some of the witnesses of a total of 13 had turned hostile during the trial.
Bittu, a two-time councillor from ward number 11 in the Jalandhar municipal corporation, was booked on the complaint of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) worker Nath Pal, a resident of Dhilwan. Presently, Bittu and others were out on bail.
As per information, on May 25, 2009, a mob allegedly attacked the residence of Bittu at Dhilwan village in the wake of violence in Vienna, the Austrian capital, in which Sant Ramanand (57) from the Dera Sach Khand sect – a low-caste Sikh sect was killed by some Sikh hardliners.
The complainant alleged that the SAD councillor opened fire with a revolver, leaving Vijay seriously injured. He later succumbed to his injuries.
The SAD councillor along with Bhajan Singh, Sukha, Ajay Pal Singh and Manga were booked by the Sadar police. The police had set up a special investigation team (SIT), comprising three senior officials, in July that year.
Two more SITs were formed by the city police on February 28, 2010, and May 22 that year. All the SITs had recommended cancellation of first information report (FIR) against the accused.
On September 28, 2011, a protest petition was filed in the court against the ‘clean chit’ and murder trial was started against the accused. The defence counsel Darshan Singh Dyal argued that when the mob moved towards Bittu’s house at 9pm on May 25, none of the witnesses had seen the SAD councillor. Bittu did not have any licensed weapon and police also failed to recover any weapon, the defence counsel contended. He also argued that the case was a result of the political conspiracy as a BSP leader was complainant in the case. Two of the accused — Saroop Singh and his son Jeeta — never appeared during the trial and reportedly are outside the country. They had turned proclaimed offenders in the case.
Bittu was arrested from a PWD guest house in Phagwara on December 7, 2013, and later, he got bail from the Punjab and Haryana high court.