Wednesday, May 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Minister’s brother stripped

JALANDHAR, May 30 (PTI) — A brother of Punjab Cabinet Minister Ajit Singh Kohar was allegedly beaten up and stripped naked by policemen in Shahkot police station after being detained on Sunday on charges of damaging a motor on panchayat-owned land in Talwandi-Butiyan village near here.

Mr Kohar, when asked by reporters about the incident, said his elder brother Ram Singh, had tried to forcibly take possession of nearly 28 acres of panchayat land and was arrested by police for this. He denied that the police had either beaten or stripped his brother.

“I am not going to interfere in the case. If he is guilty, which he most definitely is, then why should I interfere? He should not have tried to forcibly take possession of the land,” Mr Kohar, who is not on good terms with his elder brother, said.

He claimed that even Ram Singh’s children were not with him as Ram Singh was under the influence of a senior Congress leader. However it is being alleged here that the minister got his brother ‘fixed’ for joining hands with his Congress rival.

Conflicting claims were made by Ram Singh and the village panchayat members about the auction of 28 acres of panchayat land which provoked the incident. Ram Singh who was telling the land earlier said claimed vested interests did not want his contract to be renewed this year and had therefore implicated him in a false case.

Ram Singh said the auction was scheduled to be held on May 13 but on May 8, he had obtained a stay order from the court. “However, I learnt that an auction has been shown to have been held on May 8 itself in the documents. When I protested and planned to take legal recourse, I was picked up on cooked up charges of damaging the motor and breaking some pipes and was brought to Shahkot police station,” he said.

The panchayat members, however, claimed that they had requested the BDPO through a panchayat resolution to prepone the auction, following which an open auction was held on May 8 where, in the presence of over 100 villagers, one Baldev Singh was given cultivation rights to the land for Rs 1.20 lakh. Ram Singh had paid Rs 1.12 lakh for the same land last year.

Senior Superintendant of of Police Gaurav Yadav told PTI that Ram Singh was booked under Sections 457 (trespassing), 380, 379 (theft), 427 (damage to property), 148 (rioting) and 149 (group rioting) of the IPC after panchayat members lodged an FIR claiming he damaged some property on panchayat land and took away certain goods.

Kohar and his brother had fallen out in the past few months and Ram Singh was being backed by senior Congress leader Brij Bhupinder Singh Lali.

The minister denied the charge that auction of the land in favour of Baldev Singh had been ante-dated to May 8 under his influence or the case of theft against Ram Singh had been registered because of his ministerial clout.

Significantly, Ram Singh is the lone person who has been arrested in the case so far although the panchayat FIR says he was accompanied by 4-5 persons.

In an unrelated incident Mr Kohar said suitable action would be taken against a havildar of the Central Jail here for allegedly beating an undertrial, Rajinder Kumar, who subsequently died.

However, he maintained that murder convict Dalip Singh, 54, had died of cardiac arrest. Reports of two deaths in one week had attracted media attention.

Rajinder Kumar, a city resident who was arrested under the NDPS Act, died on May 18. A week later Dalip Singh, one of the seven members of a joint family convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for burning his daughter-in-law died on May 25.

Jail authorities had attributed both the deaths to cardiac arrests but the minister today said Rajinder Kumar was indeed beaten by a havildar.

On the charge of non-availability of medical treatment to Dalip Singh as alleged by six of his relatives lodged in jail with him, and other jail inmates, Mr Kuhar said it was not possible to provide medical aid to Dalip Singh at such a short notice as the barracks “had just been closed after the evening meal”.

The minister, expressed his satisfaction over the general state of affairs at the Central Jail, which he visited on May 27.

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