After the body of his alleged daughter-in-law was found at the house of his "undisclosed" second wife, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Patiala mayor Jaspal Singh Pardhan was on Saturday charged with murder.
Not only is the case yet another grave embarrassment for the ruling SAD, but it could also bring several proverbial skeletons tumbling out of realtor-politician Pardhan's cabinet. For the alleged killing of Parampreet Kaur, 29, the mayor, his "second wife" Paramjit Kaur and her son (husband of the deceased) Harpreet Singh have been booked on the charges of murder under sections 34 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a statement by Amarjeet Singh, the father of the deceased.
Pardhan insisted it was a case of suicide and also denied having a second wife. "She is my best friend's widow," he said, though the voter records of the area show him as a resident of the same house and also list him as Paramjit's husband and Harpreet's father.
Victim Parampreet Kaur was married to Harpreet in 2003, and had allegedly been facing torture after marital discord arose around four years ago.
According to the FIR, Parampreet had returned to her house in Toba Kashmiria area of the walled city around 10.30am after attending a parent-teacher meet at her two children's school. Around an hour later, her parents reached the house after some neighbours called them after an altercation between their daughter and her husband and mother-in-law. The parents claim to have found her body on a bed with Pardhan standing on one side and her husband and mother-in-law on the other.
Police sources said the body had marks of strangulation by rope on the neck. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurpreet Singh Gill, however, said, "Nothing can be said with certainty as of now. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination at Government Rajindra Hospital."
In fact, the FIR was registered only in the evening after Pardhan had tried everything to curb the spread of the news. The police had not made any arrests till the filing of this report around 9.30pm.
The deceased's father alleged, "Ever since Pardhan become mayor, he started threatening my daughter and pressurised us to agree for a divorce. But we did not think the discord would grow to such an extent."