A 57-year-old farmer, Sukhdev Singh, of Kadgill village died allegedly after being thrashed by excise department officials, cops and men of liquor vend owners, during a raid at his house on Wednesday. The raid was conducted as there was suspicion that Sukhdev was into brewing and selling country liquor.
As the news spread, hundreds of activists of farmer bodies and fellow villagers came out on the road and blocked the Amritsar-Sri Ganganagar national highway at Jandiala Chowk, by placing the body in the vehicle used by the officials to reach the village.
Sources said, a team of about 15 officials conducted the raid at Sukhdev’s house at around 1pm and as soon as he opened the gate, he was allegedly beaten up. Sukhdev reportedly tried to flee, but couldn’t and died.
At the time when this was happening, a meeting of Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) was going on in the village. When the activists learnt about the incident, they rushed towards Sukhdev’s house. The raiding team members fled the spot, leaving their vehicle behind, which the KSC activists took in their custody.
Sukhdev’s kin, fellow villagers and KSC activists then took the body to Jandiala Chowk in the same vehicle and staged a dharna, demanding registration of a murder case against the raiding team members. “Until all the excise officials, policemen and liquor vend workers are not booked for murder, we will not lift the dharna,” said KSC general secretary Sawinder Singh Chutala.
Deputy superintendent of police (city) Harpal Singh and Sadar station house officer (SHO) Yadwinder Singh tried to pacify the protesters, but their efforts went in vain. Till the filing of the report, the blockade was on and no case had been registered.
“We have recorded the statements of the victim’s family members. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty of taking law into their own hands,” said the SHO. The blockade caused hassles for the commuters as they had to pass through inner areas of the town to reach their destinations.