The elderly man sitting in the shade outside the front entrance of a house is engrossed in some deep thought and does not respond to the ‘Sat Shri Akal’ of a youth passing-by. It is only when someone goes and stands before him that he puts his one hand to a walking stick lying close-by and then looks in the direction of the visitor.
He is Harbans Singh (86) whose son Ravinderpal Singh, an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in the Punjab Police, was brutally murdered in broad daylight at Chheratta while trying to protect his daughter from some goons, one of whom was a member of the Shiromami Akali Dal.
Is he aware that it is election time and that some politicians will refer to the brutal murder of his son in their speeches in election rallies and meetings? “Elections are here, I know,” he says in a low tone and then takes a deep breath and continues, “I don’t know if they (politicians) will make a mention of Ravinder in election rallies, as my son is dead and can’t win votes for anyone.”
The incident, which occurred in December 2012, has found mention in the speeches of the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders during the ongoing election campaign in the Amritsar parliamentary constituency.
An HT team visited this village, 12 km from Amritsar on Attari-Wagah highway on Monday and found no visible signs of electioneering. There were no posters and banners to woo the 800 plus voters and the residents went about their routine work, not bothered about the elections.
“A couple of days back, Arvind Kejriwal’s people were here, but no one else has come,” said Vikram, who runs a hair cutting saloon on the periphery of the village.
Memories of Ravinderpal are still fresh in the minds of youngsters like Vikram and some, who preferred not to be named, made no secret of voting against the SAD-BJP alliance. Whatever may be their likes and dislikes of political parties or politicians but they live in perfect harmony with each other and talk high of the deceased ASI.
Asked if he will use his vote to express his resentment against the ruling alliance, Harbans said, “Of what use will this be? Our life is already over, we are just living corpses.”
His wife, Kulwant Kaur, who could not control her tears, as well as her anger, said, “The decision to vote and for whom will be taken by our daughterin-law (Ravinderpal’s wife). But we will only get solace the day the judge sends the murderers of our son to the gallows and not by casting votes.”
Karamjit Singh, a youth, talks about the ASI’s murder and squarely blames the SAD-BJP alliance for it, saying, “There is lawlessness in the state, drugs are freely available. If you are not an Akali, you are framed in a case and you go to jail.”
He also talked about the neglect the village is facing and pointed to two village ponds, which were filled with filth. Then he showed potholes on the village link road before moving on to show a channel, which was full on industrial waste from the factories of Chheratta.