A decade may have passed but the words of a Punjab Police inspector still haunt him and remind him how difficult it is to get justice in the state.
The inspector had told him: "Comrade, tu ki karenga, naare maar levenga, dharne layenga, mere upar koye asar nahi hona (Comrade, what can you do. Raise slogans? Sit on dharna? It won't affect me)." Left-wing agricultural trade union leader Gurbachan Singh continues to struggle for the possession of an acre indeed.
When he bought this land in 2003 from a widow in his village, Teja Kalan, in Gurdaspur district, he had no idea he would not get to set foot on it. Akali supporter Kuldip Singh, a nephew of the widow, had been eyeing the land. Being connected with a powerful Akali leader of Fatehgarh Churian, he tried to intimidate Gurbachan, who decided to fight back.
"Kuldip Singh had false criminal cases registered against me, my wife, and my son. The police at Fatehgarh Churian declined to entertain any of our complaints," said Gurbachan Singh. In 2005, his wife, Gurshinder Kaur, and he were attacked in their sleep. Concern for safety forced the family to shift to Amritsar.
"Instead of registering a case against Kuldip Singh and his supporters, the police made me and my son accused under Section 324 (causing injury by weapons and other dangerous means) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after this attack. They locked me up at the police station, put pressure on the family for compromise, and forced my son to sign a blank paper," alleged Gurbachan.
He moved the judicial courts at Batala. This July 19, the court ordered that a case under Sections 452 (house trespass after preparation for assault and wrongful restraint), 323 (punishment for causing hurt voluntarily), 148 (armed riot), 149 (common intent in crime by every member of unlawful assembly), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), and 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the IPC be registered against Kuldip Singh and five other people, including inspector (now retired) Satwant Singh, who was station house officer (SHO) of Fatehgarh Churian in 2005.
The case is registered but the police are yet to take action against the accused group. Instead, on July 20, Kuldip Singh got a case registered under Sections 326 (causing serious injuries by weapons and other dangerous means), 323, and 324 of the IPC against Gurbachan and his wife at Kala Afghana village. The first information report (FIR) stated that the couple had attacked him and his relatives on July 19 with sharp-edged weapons on their way back to Amritsar from a hearing at Batala.
Gurbachan Singh has demanded an inquiry into the allegation, besides cancellation of the July 20 FIR. Batala senior superintendent of police Manwinder Singh could not be contacted but another senior officer claimed that the inquiry being sought was on.
"How can the law believe that an old couple could attack a group of younger, stronger men with sharp-edged weapons," said Gurbachan Singh when he came to the HT office here with a record of the cases slapped on his family.