It’s 130-odd protesters who have been booked, while the Akali leader whose bus killed a village girl near here on Friday has got away, so far.
Hardeep Singh “Dimpy Dhillon”, co-owner of the New Deep company bus that crushed Arshdeep Kaur (13) of Channu under its wheels, is halqa in-charge of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Gidderbaha and a confidant of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. The accident happened in the Lambi assembly constituency of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, near his native village. Yet from the bus company, only the driver was booked.
Allegedly under the pressure of the SAD and its powerful bus lobby, the Muktsar police were forced to register a case against 60 unidentified villagers of Channu on the complaint of Jagseer Singh, in charge of Deep bus service in Gidderbaha. “Gurmail Singh, driver of a New Deep company bus, told me that when he had reached Channu around 5.15pm, he saw 60-odd people coming to attack the bus. They had surrounded another of our buses, broken its windowpanes, and prepared to burn it. The driver and the conductor had saved their lives somehow. The mob also tried to hurt Gurmail and the conductor aboard his bus. We want our buses back from the possession of the miscreants,” reads the complaint.
The accident happened at 5pm on Friday, and swiftly at 8.50pm, this first-information report (FIR) under Sections 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint), 427 (Mischief causing damage worth a petty amount), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 120-B (party to a serious criminal conspiracy), 148 (armed riot), and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was made out. The other case, under Section 307 (attempt to murder) was registered on Saturday against 70 villagers on the complaint of Lambi station house officer (SHO) Gurpreet Singh, who alleged an attack on him and two other police officers during a protest on the night of the accident.
The locals denied that they had damaged the buses. They said that being from the victim’s village, Dimpy Dhillon should have reached the spot after the accident. “If he had, the situation would not have gone worse. They (Akali leaders) come to the village often otherwise,” said Gurjant Singh, who is close to the affected family.
Dimpy Dhillon had said he had sympathy for the affected family and it was unfortunate that his driver had made the error in only trying to avoid another accident.
“We assured the family of all possible help, since our buses are fully insured; but it asked for `25 lakh, after damaging my two buses. People should follow the rules,” he said.