A 55-year-old local businessman was killed as a private bus rammed into his scooter here on Sunday evening. The issue took a political turn and there were protests across town as the bus firm, Orbit, is known to be owned by the ruling Badals. As a bandh was called for Monday, the Shiromani Akali Dal cancelled the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s scheduled rally in the town.
What added to the tension — police had to be deployed — was the fact that the victim, Ramesh Kumar, a leading arhtiya (commission agent) who also owned a petrol station, was from a family close to the Congress.
The incident took place around 5.30pm when Ramesh was moving out of his petrol station. The driver fled, leaving the bus behind. Ramesh was rushed to hospital by his petrol pump staff and some residents, but he succumbed to injuries. As doctors declared him dead, public that had gathered in large numbers announced a bandh with immediate effect and shopkeepers downed shutters. The situation turned tense, and heavy police force was eventually deployed.
CM Badal was to address a rally in favour of SAD’s Sangrur candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. The protestors planned to hold a dharna at the CM’s rally site. The house of the victim is opposite the rally site.
“We have registered a case against the driver and seized the bus,” said SSP Opinder Singh Ghuman. He said the body would be handed over to the family after postmortem. Congress MP Vijay Inder Singla said, “The party stands by the family of the deceased, who was a noted worker of the Congress.”