Displacing Ravan as the supreme evil, lawlessness was the effigy burnt during Dussehra here on Wednesday.
Even as the joint action committee of citizens and farmers continued to keep the burning issue of the brazen kidnapping of minor girl Shruti Sachdeva alive, her family was told it could meet her on Thursday at Nari Niketan in Jalandhar.
Separate from it, an official Dussehra was organised at Nehru Stadium. At the unofficial festival near Kamiana Chowk here, the government and police were the targets of slogans over the broad-daylight kidnapping and subsequent victimisation of Shruti. Student leaders added decibel to this din.
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat on Wednesday visited the girl's parents to tell them the district administration could arrange their meeting with her at Nari Niketan in Jalandhar. We have given them the offer, and we are ready to help," said Bhagat. Asked about any other relief given to the family, he said the district attorney had on Tuesday moved the court of the chief judicial magistrate to seek the girl's medical examination and handover to parents but court had turned down the application.
"We have received the offer from the district administration," confirmed Ashwani Kumar Sachdeva, Shruti's father, "and we will consider visiting Jalandhar tomorrow (on Thursday)." In his address to the gathering near Kamiana Chowk, he said police pressure had led his daughter to change her statement on Tuesday in the court.
"I lost my daughter on September 24, the day she was kidnapped, and on Tuesday, I lost her the second time after 27-day protest," said Ashwani Kumar. "(In court on Tuesday) She seemed to be terrified and her body was cold. She only said: 'Mom, Nishan will kill you.' I suspect the police to be behind this tactic."
A day before, Sharuti had first agreed to accompany her parents and report for medical examination but within minutes, requested the court to record her supplementary statement, in which she wished to be sent to Nari Niketan and not taken to a doctor. The court sent her to Nari Niketan in Jalandhar.
"We want justice for the family," said Bhupinder Singh, a member of the joint action committee leading the agitation over lawlessness since Shruti's kidnapping. "The role of the police has been suspicious throughout the case. They even didn't allow the girl to speak with her parents or meet them before her production in court."
"Tomorrow, we shall explore the legal options before us," said Swarn Singh, a member of the committee. "We want the girl taken for medical examination, for she is minor and there is a possibility that she was victim of physical abuse. If so, the evidence will help bring the suspect to justice."
No new arrest has been made in the case, senior superintendent of police Gurpreet Singh Toor has confirmed. Agencies add that the joint action committee was upset that chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was yet to visit the girl's parents and show sympathy for what had happened. The organisation will decide the next course of action on Friday in Bathinda.
Shruti, 15, a Class-10 student, was kidnapped at gunpoint from here house in Faridkot on September 24, in full public view. Nishan Singh, 19, who has criminal history, is main suspect. On Sunday, the state police recovered the girl from Goa and arrested Nishan Singh. Police sources confirmed that 15 of the 17 suspects in the case had been arrested.
(Inputs from PTI)