Cops at the Bajakhana police station in Faridkot were tightlipped over the two deaths in police firing during a clash with the protesters at Behbal Kalan village on the Bathinda-Kotkapura road on October 14.
A week on, the bereaved families still wait for the authorities to take legal or administrative cognisance of the killings of Gurjeet Singh of Sarawan village and Krishan Bhagwan Singh of Behbal Khurd village. The two were part of the protests that spread like fire in Malwa following the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib last week.
The local police sounded satisfied with the FIR registered Police firing victim Gurjeet Singh’s father Sadhu Singh in his house at Sarawan village in Faridkot district on Tuesday. against the protesters under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and other sections, pertaining to rioting and looting, of the IPC besides under the Arms Act, citing that the police had opened fire “in self-defence”.
However, the FIR did not mention the two deaths that occurred on the spot during the clash.
“This (the FIR) is all we have. I cannot say anything about the deaths as the matter is under investigation by DIG Amar Singh Chahal,” Bajakhana police station SHO Shinder Pal Singh told HT. “There were police personnel from Moga and Ludhiana as well,” he said, maintaining that no cop under the Bajakhana jurisdiction was involved in the firing. Chahal was not accessible on phone.
Those who suffered bullet injuries were Beant Singh of Behbal Khurd village and Angrez Singh, Harmandeep, Babbu and Jeeta, all from Behbal Kalan village.
There were allegations and counter-allegations by protesters and police as many vehicles were torched during the clash. A Punjab Police bus, two light motor vehicles of cops, two private motorcycles, a tractor trolley and a generator set were gutted.
The trouble began in the wee hours on October 14, when the police insisted on the villagers lifting the dharna on the highway and even rounded up around 100 of them, including women, at 4 am. An hour later, about 200 more protesters were held and taken to Jaitu police station, following which Faridkot SP Bikramjit Singh initiated talks to defuse the situation.
According to eyewitnesses, another police squadron led by then Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma, now suspended in wake of the incident, allegedly went into action in the form of lathicharge without any provocation, while the Faridkot police team led by DSP Jagdish Kumar Bishnoi was still holding the talks with the protesters.
The firing began after the protesters started pelting the police, which comprised several hundred cops from Moga, Ludhiana, Fazilka, Ferozepur and Muktsar, with stones.
“The police resorted to lathicharge without any provocation, and the firing that killed the two men was a deliberate attempt by the police,” said Angrez Singh, who took a bullet on his shoulder. He said he and other villagers present on the spot could come on record for their statements.
On Tuesday, the Jaitu SDM visited the family of Gurjeet Singh at Sarawan, offering “a cheque for `10 lakh and all support by the administration”, deceased’s father Sadhu Singh told HT.
“I told the SDM that we wanted the registration of a murder case against the policemen, and also the post-mortem report as my son suffered a fatal bullet injury on his face,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents of Sarawan and Behbal Khurd villages will hold an ‘akhand path’ on October 22 at the protest site where the two were killed, the bhog of which will be held on October 24. Meanwhile, round-the-clock ‘langar’ and the road blockade continued.
At Behbal Khurd village, 65-year-old Mohinder Singh, father of deceased Krishan Bhagwan Singh, said he was too disturbed at the moment to figure out what he wanted from the administration.