A woman who can't read and another who is an MBA have reported equal rough treatment by the police. Charged with killing close relatives, Amanpreet Kaur and Bhabbi Kaur, from different villages, dissimilar education, and unlike social profiles, have claimed the accusations to be false and laid under political pressure. Bhabbi has complained of third-degree torture in illegal custody and Amanpreet of constant hounding.
Bhabbi, 45 and from poor, downtrodden family of Ramsra village, has a married son of 22 and three more children. Her age and outlook do not go with the allegation against her-that an illegal relationship outside wedlock made her kill her much older husband.
"On May 13, four men of the Rama police, including the station house officer, subjected me to third-degree torture all day in their custody," said Bhabbi. "They moved a wooden roller over my body repeatedly until I was unconscious, and dunked my head in water to make me out of breath."
The police accept that they took Bhabbi to the police station for questioning. "We are examining her role in the killing of her husband," said Gamdoor Singh, SHO of Rama. "Her father-in-law doubts her character. We didn't torture the woman or put false blame on her. She was free after interrogation."
"I was made victim to save a landlord family of the village," said Bhabbi. "My husband worked in the fields of the Vehniwals, who are an Akali family. He had gone to their house when he disappeared. After two days, his body rose to the surface of the village pond."
Amanpreet Kaur of Pittho village is in second year of a postgraduate management course and also holds the degree of Masters in Economics. The only child of her parents, she is charged with killing her cousin brother for protecting her share of land that belongs to her legally.
She killed her cousin, Kulwinder Singh, at her home with the help of her father, mother and a family friend, say the police. Amanpreet Kaur should have all 7.50 acres of ancestral land but her father, Gurnam Singh, agreed to keep only 5 acres for her on the request of her grandfather, and give extra share to the two sons of his brother.
Amanpreet's cousins own 10 acres of the 15-acre property. "We were under emotional pressure from my cousins to transfer the rights of the remaining 5 acres to them," said the woman. "They argued that after marriage, the land would go to my husband. Then one of my cousins, Sukhwinder Singh, took poison in field."
Sukhwinder died at Adesh Medical College. "Ruldu Singh, brother-in-law of my cousin, used his political influence to implicate my family in a false case of murder. The police claimed we had carried the body to the field in daylight and dumped it there."
Since the death of Sukwinder Singh on May 6, Amanpreet's family is on the run, and the complainants have taken possession of its house and farm equipment. "We were tortured mentally," said the woman. "The police knew we were innocent. Ruldu Singh is close to an Akali leader and wants all our ancestral land transferred to her sister, widow of my cousin."
"The charge against Amanpreet and her family is false," a police officer stated on the condition of anonymity. "The police have no evidence."