Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal's Orbit Aviation Private Limited, involved in the Moga bus horror last week, has been part of several accidents where residents were either killed or maimed for life over the past couple of years, but the company has never been named in police records. The company's name is missing from the first-information report (FIR) in such cases and the challans presented in court.
In January 2013, the car of Hardev Singh, a hockey coach from Patiala, was hit by an Orbit bus (PB 03-X-1035), maiming him for life. The FIR mentioned bus driver Kulwant Singh and the driver of the truck (HR 37-B-8493) as co-accused. However, in the challan, the then Sirhind SHO Sukhdev Singh dropped the name of the Kulwant as an accused, claiming that the truck driver was at fault.
"It was shocking. I have moved a private application in a Fatehgarh Sahib court to summon Kulwant Singh," Hardev claims.
On October 4, 2013, traffic constable Vikramjit Singh was assaulted by Orbit bus staffers, when he objected to its entry into the wrong lane. Police arrested three staffers, but the FIR registered at Sangrur City police station did not name Orbit.
"The challan was presented against the driver, the conductor and the helper of the bus. As no company was named, no one else was involved," said a cop, requesting anonymity. Constable Vikramjit Singh refused comment.
On April 12, 2015, Orbit bus (PB 03 7518) rammed into Gagandeep Singh's (17) motorcycle at Mahavir Chowk in Sangrur, crushing the Dhuri resident to death. The bus was impounded, but driver Manjit Singh has not been arrested.
Investigating officer Satnam Singh said, "We are yet to collect documents related to registration of the bus from Bathinda. The challan will be filed once we get documents." However, there was no reply on the failure to arrest the accused.
An NGO Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) has also conducted a survey on police action in accidents involving buses of politicians.
"In the recent past, we have found that most cases involve Orbit buses. With the Badals as the owner, the staff breaks law with impunity," said Gurmail Singh Thuhiwal, who led the survey.
Thuhiwal said the beating up of policeman at Sangrur was an apt reflection of the immunity these buses enjoyed. "Any other bus would have been challaned. Here, a cop was beaten up."
On Feb 13, 2013, an Orbit bus (PB-03-3835) coming from Sangrur to Bathinda collided with a Scorpio (HR-29T-2456) near Rajwarha Dhaba killing driver Balwinder Singh of Harigarh village on the spot, and injuring co-passenger Jaswinder Singh.
"Barnala administration officials, who arrived at the spot were more concerned about getting the bus to ply again than attending to the injured," he added.
In Feb 2014, Orbit bus (PB-03X-0635) hit a motorcycle near the drain of Harigarh village (Barnala) from the rear due to which Gurdeep Kaur died and Gurlabh Singh was injured.
"The Dhanaula SHO safeguarded the bus, instead of attending to the injured. An infuriated crowd set the bus on fire," claimed Thuhiwal.
When contacted, DIG Balkar Singh Sidhu said "I have no first-hand information on this. I will check and then revert."
In spite of several attempts, Lakhbir Singh Lakhi, manager of Orbit Aviation Private Limited, could not be contacted.
Blatant instance, cop thrashed in 2013
Oct 4, 2013: Traffic constable Vikramjit Singh was assaulted by Orbit bus staffers, when he objected to the bus's entry into the wrong lane. Police arrested three staffers, but the FIR registered at Sangrur City police station did not name Orbit. "The challan was presented against the driver, the conductor and the helper of the bus. As no company was named, no one else was deemed to be involved," said a cop, requesting anonymity.