Police opened fire after a cane charge on Saturday night here to grab the body of a girl crushed under the wheels of an Akali leader’s bus at Channu village in the chief minister’s Lambi assembly constituency.
Worst, the police dragged the body from the accident spot to a vehicle, leaving a 200-metre blood trail on the road. Resistance from the protesters, including the victim’s family, had no effect. A New Deep company bus co-owned by Hardeep Singh “Dimpy” Dhillon, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) halqa in-charge of Gidderbaha, had run Class-8 girl Arshdeep Kaur (13) over on Friday evening. Dhillon is a confidant of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
“The victim’s family was among 150 villagers protesting peacefully on the road when a heavy police force swooped down on us around midnight,” said villager Gurjant Singh. “The police cut power supply to the area and attacked us with canes in the dark. Then they started firing in the air and took away what they came for,” said villager Gurmeet Singh, who is close to the affected family.
“The police grabbed the body from the victim’s grandfather Jarnail Singh, even as he hung on to it. They hit whoever resisted,” said Sukhmander Singh, an uncle of Arshdeep Kaur, who has his thumb injured. “Police should not have done that to us... dragging the body of my daughter,” said Jasvir Kaur, victim’s mother.
“My sister deserved justice. (New) Deep buses are killers let loose on the road,” said Amadeep Kaur, elder sister of the victim. “The police did not ask us anything, saying they’d sort out the matter in the morning. But around midnight, they gave us a rude shock,” said villager Gurshaminder. Seeing the body being dragged, the protesters turned violent and pelted the police with stones. Two buses of New Deep company got damaged, and one was burnt on the spot. “The police torched the bus to implicate us,” alleged a villager.
“People turned violent when we moved in save a vehicle. We neither cane charged them nor dragged the body. The autopsy and cremation was done with the consent of the victim’s family. We had arrested accused driver Baljeet Singh on Saturday night only. All allegations by the protesters are baseless,” said Malout deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Manvinderbir Singh.
They asked for Rs 25 lakh: SAD leader
Muktsar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal responded neither to the repeated telephone calls nor a detailed text message to him from HT. “Anybody can cause an accident, but people wanted to me to pay Rs 25 lakh for it. I had assured them of all possible help, yet they damaged two of my buses,” said Dimpy Dhillon.
The villagers the company had paid the family Rs10 lakh to pacify it, but Dhillon denied that he had paid anything. “It (deciding compensation) is up to the district administration,” he said.
Bathinda deputy commissioner Basant Garg, who holds the additional charge of Muktsar DC, said the family’s case for financial help had been moved to the government, for any compensation it would deem fit under the policy.
Arshdeep Kaur was cremated after autopsy in the evening.
Cong, AAP leaders visit victim’s family
Muktsar: Gidderbaha legislator and All-India Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring also reached Channu village and condemned the police action of grabbing the body from the family and protesters.
“It is police brutality. They even brought in a crane to take away the a ruling party leader’s bus that killed a girl, and they fired shots at the protesters. The Congress stand by the victim’s family in its fight for justice,” said Warring, who visited the victim’s family.
Faridkot MP Sadhu Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party, and Himmat Singh Shergill, party’s Anandpur Sahib leader, also reached the spot. “We demand the resignation of the chief minister over this police brutality. If we come to power in the state, we’ll take the guilty to task, and fight for the victim in court,” said Shergill, who also visited the aggrieved family.