A worker of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and right to information (RTI) activist, who had reportedly distributed some posters to generate awareness among residents of Jaitu in view of the ensuing municipal elections and had mentioned cases of corruption in the local municipal committee, was allegedly beaten up on Saturday night by a group of about 10 people. He was seriously injured in the incident.
Harish Chander, about 45, who practices in ayurvedic medicine in Jaitu, has been admitted to a private hospital in Amritsar.
"My brother, who is an AAP worker and RTI activist, was severely beaten up by a group of about 10 people when he went out for a walk. We have a strong suspicion that the henchmen of local SAD politicians are behind the incident," alleged Ashvni Kumar, brother of Harish Chander while speaking to HT over phone from Amritsar.
"Besides suffering head injuries, both of his legs are fractured. He was first rushed to the local civil hospital from where he was referred to Guru Gobind Singh medical college and hospital in Faridkot, but there we were advised to take him either to PGI, Chandigarh, or some hospital in Amritsar. He is being operated upon and is unconscious," said Ashvani.
"He could identify the assaulters but so far he is unable to record his statement," Ashvani said.
The posters, distributed a few days ago by the AAP worker by hand and circulated through newspapers had said, "The previous municipal committee of Jaitu had, in 2008, rented out 15 of its shops for just Rs 14,500 each per month against the market rate of about Rs 1lakh of each shop. It has led to a huge loss to the municipal committee."
Harish had also raised suspicion on the alleged overcharging on fuel and the cost of repair of Rs 3lakh on the official vehicle of the MC.
"Harish is our party worker and an RTI activist. He had procured some information from the local bodies department about the alleged irregularities in the municipal committee of Jaitu, dominated by the leaders of the SAD close to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Raising suspicion on the alleged renting out of the 15 shops of the municipal committee on a less rate than the market rate and higher charges for fuel and repair cost for the official vehicle of the municipality irritated the SAD leaders. We want justice for the injured and if the police failed to take appropriate action, we shall hold a protest," said Kultar Singh, AAP spokesman for Punjab.
"Harish has been fighting to get justice for the common people and he had pointed out the alleged irregularities in the municipal committee. But, as the municipal elections are approaching near, the local politicians were allegedly upset the way he was throwing a challenge to them on the local issues. So, he was targeted and beaten up to silence him," said Gurjant Singh, president of the Lok Adhikar Chetna Sewa Society, Jaitu, with whom Harish was also associated.
"A police team has gone to Amritsar to record the statement of the injured activist in the incident and the action would be taken on the basis of the complaint," said Gurjeet Singh Romana, deputy superintendent of police, Jaitu