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Awaiting Judgement
A follow-up
Teacher abducted for opposing unfair means; fate unknown
CHANDIGARH: The trial of the five-and-a-half-year old case of abduction of Sushil Kumari, a young lecturer of Hisar, has ground to a halt in the court of CBI's Special Judge at Ambala, following the summoning of the entire record by the Punjab and Haryana High Court almost a year ago.

75 Years Ago

Tarn Taran Gurdwara
AS announced already, the SGPC had declared that no meetings or lectures should be held in the Parkarma of Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran, without the previous permission of the Local Gurdwara Committee.


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A Tribune Special
Teacher abducted for opposing unfair means; fate unknown

CHANDIGARH: The trial of the five-and-a-half-year old case of abduction of Sushil Kumari, a young lecturer of Hisar, has ground to a halt in the court of CBI's Special Judge at Ambala, following the summoning of the entire record by the Punjab and Haryana High Court almost a year ago.

And when the case last came up for hearing before the Special Judge Mr R.C. Bansal on January 12 this year, he held: "Further orders from the High Court not received. It is stated that the next date of hearing fixed in the hon'ble High Court is March 15, 1999. Further orders of the High Court be awaited for March 31".

Thus until the High Court returns the record to the trial court, with whatever directions it deems fit, the trial cannot be resumed and the bereaved parents of Sushil Kumari have to cool their heels for the verdict — God knows for how long.

A junior lecturer in Political Science at the Government Senior Secondary School for Girls at Hisar, Sushil Kumari was said to be a firm disciplinarian. Detailed on invigilation duty by the district administration in the 10+2 examination held in March, 1993, she was determined to ensure that no student resorted to copying in the examination hall. It was this principled, uncompromising attitude in the line of academic duty that led to her abduction and, possibly, the ultimate tragedy.

According to Mr Gaze Singh, the octogenarian father of Sushil Kumari, his daughter had earned the wrath of Mr Mukesh Kumar, a gunman attached with Mr Manphool Singh, brother of former Haryana Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal. She had foiled Mukesh's attempt to help his wife copy in the examination. She had also displeased Mr Salender Bishnoi, a relative of Mr Manphool Singh, by refusing to help his friend Raj Kumari, daughter of a former DSP Mr K.K. Sharma, in the examination. Both of them, Mr Gaze Singh alleged, had threatened Sushil Kumari with "dire consequences". He alleged that a conspiracy to abduct his daughter was hatched on April 30, 1993.

A divorcee, Sushil Kumari left her house for the school on May 1, 1993. Before leaving, she promised her mother that she would send material for getting the house white-washed. Once gone, she never returned home. Nor did the promised material ever reach her mother.

Although Sushil Kumari was allegedly abducted on May 1, and her father put in a written complaint to the Civil Lines police station at Hisar the same day, the case was not registered for a whole week thereafter. It was only on May 8, when his son-in-law Mr S.S. Saran approached the DIG, Hisar Range, that an FIR was registered and the investigation started. A reward of Rs 1 lakh for furnishing any clue about the "disappearance" of Sushil Kumari was announced. The police failed to make any headway, however.

The Haryana government then wrote two letters to the Centre on July 27 and August 8, requesting a probe by the CBI. About a year later, July 7, 1994, to be precise, the CBI took over investigation by registering a fresh case (No 28(S)/94-CHG) under Section 364, IPC.

At this stage Mr R.S. Dhull, an advocate, preferred a petition before the apex court praying that the CBI be directed to conduct the investigation expeditiously. On September 19, 1995, the apex court ordered the CBI to complete the probe within two months.

In its 31-page investigation report submitted to the Supreme Court the CBI claimed that it had questioned a large number of persons with a view to unveiling the mystery that surrounded the disappearance of Sushil Kumari. It was revealed that Mukesh Kumar used to come to the school during the board examination to help his wife in copying. On being opposed by her, he threatened Sushil Kumari.

Mukesh Kumar was arrested by the CBI on November 28, 1994. He was subjected to sustained interrogation for 10 days, first from November 28 to December 2 and then from December 9 onwards. While still in custody he "expressed his desire to confess his guilt," says the CBI. He was accordingly produced before the Special Judicial Magistrate, Patiala, under Section 164 of the Cr. PC. on December 12.

In his confessional statement Mukesh Kumar said that he was the gunman of Mr Manphool Singh in 1993. During this period he came to know Salendar Bishnoi and Raju. Salender, he said, used to visit the school for helping Raju copy in the examination, which was objected to by Sushil Kumari. She "insulted" Salender and one Kuldip Godara, a friend of Salender, in the presence of other girls.

The statement adds that he (Mukesh Kumar), Salender Kumar, Kuldip Godara, Joginder Singh alias Tiger, Subhash Bagri and and another unnamed friend hatched a plan on April 30, 1993 to abduct her. In furtherance of this conspiracy, he (Mukesh Kumar) along with Kuldip, Salender, Joginder Singh, Subhash and one more person (friend of Subhash) went to the school on May 1, in a red colour Maruti van bearing No HYE or HYS - 5014 and abducted Sushil Kumari. She was confined at a building called Raj Mahal at Hisar from May 1 to 3, whereafter she was strangulated to death with her "dupatta" and her dead body was thrown in a canal near Badopal village at a distance of about 37-38 kms from Hisar.

Less than two weeks later, Mukesh Kumar retracted his confession in the court of the Special Judicial Magistrate, Ambala, on December 24, 1994.

Following the confession Salender Kumar Bishnoi was arrested on December 12, 1994 and intensively interrogated by the CBI until December 24. He admitted having illicit relations with Raj Kumari, alias Raju, since 1990. Mr Sharma's family lived in a portion of their house (No 120-B, New Grain Market, Hisar). He used to help Raju in copying during the board examination of 10+2 in 1993. He arranged for her to sit in a separate room. On her objecting to this, he had an altercation with Sushil Kumari. He disclosed nothing, however, about her alleged abduction and denied his involvement in the same.

The CBI says that on December 12, 1994, it also raided the house of Joginder Singh. He could not be traced. Subsequently, he allegedly committed suicide by consuming an insecticide, as per the report of Dr Khetarpal, the owner of Khetarpal Hospital, Hisar.

Kuldip Godara, Subhash Bagri, son of Mr Mani Ram Bagri, and Raj Kumari were also questioned.

"No material circumstantial or direct evidence," says the CBI report, "could be collected which could connect" Salender Kumar Bishnoi with the crime, apart from Mukesh Kumar's confession.

Nor had any material evidence come on record, it maintains, to "establish any link" between Mukesh Kumar and Subhash Bagri and Kuldeep Singh Godara.

As for Sushil Kumari's fate, the CBI report says: "Despite the best efforts made by the CBI the corpus delicti of Sushil Kumari has not been recovered nor has it been possible to recover any personal effects belonging to her. In all probability she is dead and no more alive, yet since her corpus delicti could not be recovered, it cannot be conclusively stated that she is dead...."

The report concludes: "It has been decided to prosecute Mukesh Kumar for the offences of abduction and illegal confinement of Sushil Kumari. There is no evidence on record to warrant the prosecution of Salender Kumar Bishnoi, Kuldip Godara and Subhash Bagri. Since Salender Kumar Bishnoi was arrested during the course of investigation, it is proposed to get him discharged under Section 169, Cr.P.C"

After perusing the CBI report a two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Mr Justice Kuldip Singh and Mr Justice Saghir Ahmad, ruled on February 13, 1996: "The CBI has found a prima facie case against constable Mukesh Kumar. Mr R.S. Dhull, counsel assisting us in this case, vehemently contends that there is prima facie evidence against other persons. Mr Tulsi states that the challan against Mukesh Kumar shall be filed within two weeks. Needless to say that it is open to Mr Dhull to argue before the court where challan is filed, that apart from Mukesh Kumar, other persons may also be summoned for trial."

On the challan being filed, the trial court at Ambala framed charges against Mukesh Kumar on October 10, 1996, as proposed by the CBI, and recorded the evidence of four persons — Mr Gaje Singh and Mrs Khazani Devi, parents of Sushil Kumari, Mr Kitab Singh Malik, President of the Haryana Teachers' Union and Mr Samar Singh Saran, the sister's husband of Sushil Kumari.

Advocate R.S. Dhull then moved the court under Section 319, Cr. PC to summon Mr Bhajan Lal, former Chief Minister, his sons Mr Chander Mohan and Mr Kuldip Bishnoi, Mr Anil Dawra, the then SSP of Hisar, Subhash Bagri, Salender Bishnoi, Joginder Singh (who has since committed suicide) and Kuldip Godara, as well.

In his order handed down on October 1, 1997, the Special Judge observed: "It is to be made clear that for any criminal charge no person can be summoned to face trial unless there is some legal evidence brought on record against him or her. A person whether he is a Chief Minister or an ordinary man cannot be summoned for criminal charge to the court on the basis of surmises and conjectures. Mere allegations and proclamations that a Chief Minister got another person murdered, simply would not be enough to summon Mr Bhajan Lal".

The Special Judge Mr A.S. Garg (now elevated to High Court) held, however, "that there is sufficient evidence from the mouth" of Gaje Singh, Khazani Devi, Kitab Singh and Samar Singh Saran that Mukesh, Salender Bishnoi, Subhash Bagri Kuldip Godara and deceased Joginder Tiger "had been going to the school and had been insisting on the deceased" to permit copying. "The threats they had been making are enough to conclude that they had lifted the deceased; they had the motive and their motive was frustrated by the deceased by her upright principles and there is a statement of accused Mukesh under Section 164 of the Cr PC which mentions that the deceased, after being confined as such, was taken to Sirsa road, where she was strangulated" and thrown into the canal.

The Judge declined Mr Dhull's application as regards Mr Bhajan Lal, his sons Chander Mohan and Kuldip Bishnoi, SSP Anil Dawra and Ms Raj Kumari, but accepted his plea for summoning Salender Bishnoi, Subhash Bagri and Kuldip Godara.

Dissatisfied, Mr Dhull challenged the order before the High Court, where the matter is still hanging fire.Top


Tarn Taran Gurdwara

AS announced already, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had declared that no meetings or lectures should be held in the Parkarma of Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran, without the previous permission of the Local Gurdwara Committee.

It is a matter of pleasure that on the last Amavas fair all conveners of diwans obeyed the instructions of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The Namdharis formed the only exception. They did not apply for permission and even on being given a written reminder they persisted in their defiance. In fact, they refused to give a reply to the letter.

Further, they sold a tract in the Parkarma again in defiance of the old rules of the temple.

There was consequently great resentment among the thousands of Sikhs gathered in the temple, and but for the presence of responsible members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, some untoward incident might have happened.Top

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