A key witness and mother of the 13-year-old girl who was molested and allegedly murdered by being thrown out of a moving bus — owned and operated by the ruling Badal family of Punjab — in April last year refused to identify the accused during the court hearing on Tuesday.
The shocking Moga molestation case had brought under spotlight the money-spinning transport business of the Badal clan, triggering a statewide outrage, with people likening it to the December 2012 gangrape in Delhi.
Shinder Kaur, the mother, told the court that she was not in a fully conscious state when she recorded the statement before the police. With the prime witness turning hostile, the case may fall flat.
“I was not in my conscious state due to the sudden death of my daughter when police were recording my statements,” she said during the hearing of the case in the court of additional district and sessions judge Gurjant Singh on Tuesday.
However, in her statement to the police on April 29, 2015, Shinder had stated that she and her daughter boarded the bus from Moga at 4pm that day and that both were pushed off the bus after being subjected to indecent gestures and lewd comments by the accused following an altercation over the bus ticket price. On the basis of her statement, the police had booked the bus staff -- Sukhwinder Singh alias Pamma; Gurdeep Singh alias Jimmy; Amar Ram; and Ranjit Singh -- on the charges of murder.
The incident that happened at Gill village on the Moga-Kotkapura road, about 10 km from here, left the girl dead and her mother seriously wounded.
Shocked over Shinder’s U-turn, the prosecutor tried in vain to convince the woman, who firmly stuck to her fresh statement.
Much to the chagrin of the prosecution, Shinder even refused to identify the four accused who were produced in the court for identification.
“I don’t remember anything and don’t know these people,” Shinder said when a prosecutor asked her to identify the accused.
It is understood that the victim’s mother was under pressure to turn hostile so that the case falls flat. The state government had given the family Rs 24 lakh as compensation, besides offering a government job to one member of the family.
During the previous hearing on January 15, the key witness didn’t appear in the court and her son had handed over her medical certificate to the court.
The case was registered under sections 302, 307, 354 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, Section 3 of the SC/ST Act and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned the case and fixed March 25 to resume hearing.