In a revenge attack, six members of a farmer’s family were set afire at their house in Jattawali village of Ferozepur district in the wee hours of Thursday. Three of them - an elderly woman and her two minor granddaughters – died, while the others were injured.
Farmer Balwant Singh was sleeping in the courtyard of his house with his wife, three children and mother when three persons climbed up the roof from the rear side around 3:30am. They poured petrol on the family and threw a burning ‘mashaal’ (wooden torch) on them before fleeing from the spot.
Balwant’s mother Bachan Kaur (70) and daughter Jasvir Kaur (17) died on the spot, while another daughter, Satvir Kaur (16), succumbed to injuries at a local private hospital. Balwant suffered 70% burn injuries and was referred to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Ludhaina. His wife, Veerpal Kaur, with 15% burn injuries on the arms and face, and son Sukhpreet (10% burns) were admitted to a local hospital.
Ferozepur senior superintendent of police (SSP) Varinder Pal Singh said the accused had been identified as Lakhwinder Singh (23) of Sultanpur Lodhi village, his brother Mandeep Singh (28) and father Mohan Lal (51). During a preliminary investigation, it was revealed that Lakhwinder suspected Balwant of having implicated him in a case of smuggling of illicit liquor two years ago. Nursing a grudge against Balwant, Lakhwinder had shifted from Jattawali, located on the Mallanwala-Makhu road, 30km from Ferozepur city, to Sultanpur Lodhi after his name figured in the case.
However, Balwant maintained cordial relations with Lakhwinder’s elder brother Satpal Singh. The latter is now based in Dubai, while his family stays at Zira, a subdivision of Ferozepur. Balwant had recently fixed a match between his relative and a girl from Satpal’s family. This step enraged Lakhwinder and led to Thursday’s attack, the police said.
Talking to the media on Thursday, Balwant said Lakhwinder had repeatedly threatened him on the phone with dire consequences. Sources said Lakhwinder had called up his sister around 4am and informed her about the crime.
A case under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered against the accused. A manhunt is on to nab the trio.
Ferozepur deputy commissioner Manjit Singh Narang and local MLA Parminder Singh Pinki were among those who visited the injured at the hospital.