A reign of police terror to avenge public thrashing of a cop has made scores of Taragarh youth flee their homes in the past six days and forced the twin village of Gokhuwal into silence.
Around 4am on May 16, nearly 150 cops led by two superintendents of police (SPs) and half-a-dozen DSPs raided these Batala villages, ransacked household furniture, beat up many people, and arrested nine youth in their hunt for the men who had tied assistant sub-inspector Nirjit Singh to an electricity pole on May 15, ripped his uniform, and hit him in full public view over the allegation that he had helped a killer rash driver get away.
The everyday raids in these Civil Lines police jurisdiction villages have terrorised youth so much that they slip away by the night and can get back in only secretly at daytime. Kashmir Kaur (50) is left shaken by the police invasion in the wee hours of May 16. “Cops in civvies scaled the wall to get into my house when we were asleep. Without warning, half-a-dozen of them pounced on my husband, Lakhwinder Singh (60). When I tried to shield him, they pushed me to the ground and hit me on the head with their cane. I got seven stitches,” she said.
“Drawn out by the cries of neighbours, I ran into two policemen. I tried to rush back in but they caught hold of me and keep hitting me with sticks, which broke my right foot,” said former panch Ajit Singh (70). “Police had not come to pick up our wards,” he said, “They came to terrorise us.” Villager Gurmeet Kaur said she had implored the cops to spare her husband who had gone through a major backbone surgery “but they lay him on the ground and caned him mercilessly until he was unconscious”.
“The cops then dragged me out of house by my hair. The assault fractured my left arm and right leg. They picked up my son, Paramjeet (15) and gave him third-degree torture in illegal custody before they let him off as innocent. For six days, our boys have been staying away from the village. Most shops are closed and it appears that the days of terrorism are back,” she added.
Cruel, says MLA
Condemning the incident, local Congress legislator and party’s state vice-president Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said the Batala police were terrorising villagers for revenge. “The cane-charging of women and elderly people was crossing all limits of inhumanity,” he said, adding that he would take the matter to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and even hold a dharna “if police did not stopped terrorising people”.