Upset over inaction on his complaint by the block development and Panchayat Officials (BDPO), a 60-year-old handicapped man set himself on fire, outside the BDPO office in Kot Isse Khan town, 15 kilometres from here, on Thursday. Later, he succumbed to his burn injuries.
Kartar Singh of Lohgarh village had lodged a complaint with the BDPO regarding illegal construction in the residential area by his neighbour Laxman Singh and his sons. He had been demanding demolishing of that construction.
The complaint stated that Laxman along with his sons was trying to connect their two homes built opposite to each other by constructing lintel over a narrow street, which is an encroachment on government’s land.
As per official sources, Kartar went to the BDPO office at about 12 noon to get status regarding his complaint. A junior assistant in BDPO, Salinder Kaur told HT that she had asked him to wait for BDPO, as he was not in the offfice.
“Suddenly he poured oil on him and set himself ablaze and nearby people rushed towards him to extinguish the fire,” she said.
Eyewitnesses said that Kartar was immediately brought to nearby government hospital from where he was referred to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot, where he succumbed to his injuries during treatment. He had sustained about 80% burn injuries.
Deceased’s son Lakhvir Singh said that his father was in distress due to repeated threats from Laxman and his sons to cancel his complaint. He also alleged that the authorities were not taking action on account of pressure from Congress leader Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh.
He added that Lakhvir had demanded registration of complaints against Laxman and the Congress leader.
Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Dharamkot Jaspal Singh said that he himself had checked all the records in the BDPO office which shows officials were taking action. “On May 23, Kartar had lodged a complaint with BDPO and soon officials were sent to the spot for an inquiry,” he said.
He said that social education and panchayat officer (SEPO) Ajmer Singh and panchayat officer (PO) Gurminder Singh along with complainant Kartar went to the spot on Wednesday and after finding irregularities in construction they had also reported to the police to take action against the accused persons.
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Gurmel Singh Dharamkot claimed that the police did not receive any complaint from the BDPO regarding this case.
Congress leader Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh termed it a conspiracy of ruling leaders to malign his image.
Meanwhile, SDM Jaspal has directed Dharamkot Tehsildar Bhupinder Singh to inquire the matter.