Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 12
More than eight years after a judicial probe indicted Punjab cops for fabricating evidence, abetting suicide, dereliction of duty and misrepresenting facts following “immolation” by four of a family in Bathinda district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the registration of an FIR.
The probe had also held the cops at fault for “faking visits” to get the victims declared as proclaimed offenders in a 2005 attempt to murder case.
The direction by the Bench of Justices Mahesh Grover and Augustine George Masih came on a petition by World Human Rights Protection Council through chairman Ranjan Lakhanpal for an independent probe.
The then Bathinda District and Sessions Judge Kuldip Singh had asserted that victim Gurjant Singh and his daughter Veerpal Kaur were indeed “harassed on account of registration of FIR number 109 of 2005”.
Gurjant Singh and his family, putting up in Behman Jassa Singh village, had set themselves afire after being “hounded by the police”. The report said they had poured kerosene on themselves to scare away the cops, after the police entered the house by scaling the wall. Instead of dousing the fire, the cops fled and planted kerosene cans.
The inquiry officer had asserted that the police never visited Gurjant’s house. The two were “got declared POs by misstating acts. The true facts of the FIR were never verified by the police before deciding to arrest the two.
A fair inquiry could have clearly established that the occurrence, as alleged, did not take place”. Moreover, “the arrest should have been made during the day” as Veerpal Kaur was a woman.
The then Sessions Judge had added that the raiding party on September 29, 2007, disconnected power supply to the house, apparently to use “some force”. As a result, “the entire family was scared and Gurjant Singh in order to scare away the police party put some kerosene on himself and on his wife… daughters Beant Kaur and Veerpal Kaur also put kerosene on themselves for the same reason and probably lit the matchstick to scare away the police party. But one of the victims caught fire. Then, the family started embracing each other, probably to save each other, but also caught fire…
“The act of the police in disappearing from the scene of crime after Gurjant Singh and his family put themselves on fire is an illegal omission. Inspector Mohinder Kumar Ghai, ASI Amritpal Singh, ASI Gurjant Singh, SPO Kaka Singh, Head Constable Mander Singh, HC Surjit Singh, HC Major Singh, PHG Amrik Singh and MC Mohinder Singh have committed the offence of abetment of suicide,” the Sessions Judge has concluded.