After the death of an inmate in Jalandhar civil hospital on Friday, family of the deceased led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders held a two-hour long protest outside superintendent of police (SP) office on Saturday.
Phagwara MLA Som Parkash and AAP leader Jarnail Nangal, local BJP-Akali councillors led by supporters joined the protest and raised anti-government slogans.
Opposition leaders accused the police of harassing innocent and drug addicts only to portray a picture of successful drive against drug menace in the district.
Balbir Ram ,26, of Phagwara died in Jalandhar civil hospital during his treatment on Friday. He was arrested by the Satnampura police with 110 intoxicant powder on April 10 in Phagwara and sent to Kapurthala Modern Jail the same day.
Jail officials had said that Ram was admitted to Kapurthala civil hospital after complaints of chest pain but doctor referred him to Jalandhar civil hospital.The victim died during the treatment on Friday.
On Saturday, family members held a protest, placing the deceased’s body at the main entry gate of Phagwara SP’s office.
The family members later on cremated the deceased’s body on Saturday evening.
The family members have been demanding suspension of Phagwara SP, Satnampura station house officer (SHO) and a high-level probe into the matter alleging that he died of torture.
MLA Parkash, accusing the Congress government said, “In the name of drives against drug peddlers, the police are now arresting innocent people and drug addicts only to show their drive being successful.”
He said, “The big fishes involved in the drug menace are spared by police ever since the new government took charge in Punjab one month ago.”
He said that Balbir was picked up from his house but police has shown his arrest from another place. He was admitted to hospital in an unconscious state even though he was healthy at the time of arrest.
Roshan Lal said that he along with his uncle Balbir Ram was detained by Satnampura police on April 9 from home.
“Police left me later but booked my uncle in a drug case and showed recovery of 110gm intoxicant powder,” Lal said. He claimed, “SHO Bharat Masih did not even allow me or any other family members to meet Balbir.” “Balbir was tortured badly in police custody to confess to the crime which he did not even commit,” said Lal.
SHO SHIFTED TO POLICE LINE
Protesters even attempted to enter SP office forcibly during the protest.Heavy police force including women constables were deployed for hours at the spot. Following this senior superintendent of police (SSP), Sandeep Sharma rushed to the spot and assured agitators of a fair inquiry into the matter.
MLA Som Parkash led by 10 people held a meeting with SSP and demanded compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the deceased’s family from the state government.
SSP said, “I have ordered inquiry into the matter as the family has alleged torture in custody. After inquiry, action will be initiated, against cops if found guilty.”
Kapurthala SP Bahadur (investigation) said that SHO Bharat Masih and investigating officer Shaminder Bhatti of the case has been shifted to police line till the inquiry is not completed.