Appalled over the state of affairs, the Punjab and Haryana high court came down heavily on the Haryana Police after it was informed that no witness in 2,100 odd first-information reports (FIRs) registered in the February 2016 Jat quota violence has approached the police seeking security so far.
“This is good music that the department is singing. You are making joke of the system. 2,000 cases have been filed. People have been murdered, rapes have taken place, properties burnt… witnesses are turning hostile,” the high court (HC) bench of justice AB Chaudhari said, asking the government whether it knew about the concept of witness protection.
“They will not come forward, you have to take necessary steps yourself… I also know how witnesses are tutored... government servants have been asked to kill everything and not to identify (perpetrators),” the HC bench said, citing a case such as the one being heard.
The HC was hearing a bail petition filed by one accused Joginder Singh, through counsel Sheenu Sura. Joginder is accused of arson at the Bamla railway station in Bhiwani during the February violence. The state’s response had come on court asking as to how three government employees who were eyewitnesses, including one station master, had turned hostile in the case.
The government told the court that as hostile witnesses were central government employees, a communication had already been sent to the authorities concerned for necessary departmental action against them.
The HC, later, even remarked that given the state of investigation of the Haryana Police, the violence cases should go to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Later, the court asked the Haryana director general of police to file a detailed affidavit about the steps taken to protect witnesses.
“DGP Haryana to come with proper affidavit keeping in mind the concept of witness protection as envisaged by law and the circumstances prevailing in the country. No further chance will be granted. Liberty is given to police for properly conducting prosecution cases and file status report (sic),” the bench of justice Chaudhari ordered, asking for reply on December 9.
The HC bench rejected the affidavits filed by the director of prosecution, Haryana, Narsher Singh and inspector general of police (law and order) Arshinder Singh Chawla, wherein the government had argued that in over 2,000 cases registered for the February Jat quota violence, there has not been a single complaint or request by any prosecution witness to provide protection to them. They had further stated that in the event of receiving such a request or complaint, necessary steps would be taken to ensure safety of witnesses.