The Punjab Police failed to solve the Vidhu Jain murder case despite interrogating more than 250 persons in the past nine months. Vidhu, an 11-year-old Malerkotla boy, was burnt alive in September 2013, leading to tension in the Muslim-dominated historical town.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's move to seek a CBI probe comes a fortnight after the victim's family announced to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court for a CBI probe.
The state government had on January 3 urged the union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to hand over the investigation to the CBI, but no response has yet been received from the Centre.
Vidhu was burnt alive in broad daylight in a Malerkotla bylane when he was returning from school, where he had gone to hand over a tiffin to his younger brother. The police took some Muslim boys into custody, sparking an outrage by the community, following which the police released them all. The situation remained tense in the town for many days.
The police have so far quizzed more than 250 persons and tracked call detail records of about 500 phones.
They have also tried to get leads from a deaf-mute boy, who allegedly witnessed the incident, by using the services of audiologists and speech therapists, but to no avail.
The police have worked in vain on several theories – hate/communal crime, inter-family or intra-family rivalry, business dispute etc. There were 50 to 60 footfalls per minute in the bylane where Vidhu was burnt alive, but no witness has come forward so far. The CCTV footage of two cameras and a video clip made by some persons have proved inconclusive.
"We sent the CCTV footage to the forensic laboratory in Hyderabad. We are awaiting the report to proceed further," said Mandeep Singh Sidhu, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Sangrur.
Following Vidhu's death, the CM had visited the victim's family and given Rs. 25 lakh compensation. The Jain community has also helped the family, which shifted to Ludhiana earlier this year. The family has been alleging that the police know who the culprits are, but are not taking action due to political pressure.
September 30, 2013: Vidhu Jain (11) burnt alive in a Malerkotla bylane, a few days after he had a spat with some boys who tried to steal kite string from his father's provision store.
October 1: Police pick up Muslim suspects, leading to communal tension. Bandh observed in Malerkotla for three days.
October 8: CM Parkash Singh Badal visits Vidhu's family, gives compensation of Rs. 25 lakh. Appeals for communal harmony
October 14: Family starts door-to-door campaign, alleging police inaction
Jan 3, 2014: Punjab government approaches union ministry of home affairs for CBI probe, as demanded by Vidhu's family.
March: Family shifts to Ludhiana, alleging that the police are not arresting the culprits under political pressure.
June: Family holds protest in Malerkotla, announces to approach high court for CBI probe.