Thursday, February 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Minister’s kin opens fire, 1 dead
Bandh in Bhikhiwind
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind, February 6
One migrant, Ali Sher Khan, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, was killed on the spot while two sustained injuries when Gurpartap Singh Kairon, brother of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, who is a candidate of the ruling Akali Dal and son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister and two others allegedly opened fire in front of the police station here this afternoon.

Bhikhiwind is considered a sensitive area which is only 10 km from the Indo-Pak border. According to an FIR lodged on the complaint of Mr Tejpartap Singh Peter, Sarpanch of Bhikhiwind, and office in-charge of the Congress candidate, Mr Tarlok Singh Chakwalia, the brother of the Akali candidate, along with Sunny and Gurmukh Singh, alias Ghulla, removed the buntings of the Congress from a building. However, when he (Mr Peter) and other Congress leaders went to the police station, the alleged culprits chased them and opened fire. Mr Peter, a prominent leader of the Congress alleged that he was the target of the assailants but he had a providential escape by lying on the ground with the result that the bullet hit Ali Khan, a rehriwala, who had come from Uttar Pradesh to earn a living. The deceased was father of three children. Mr Peter, a grandson of Darshan Singh Pheruman and Baghel Singh, alleged that his family had enmity with the “Kairon family” for the past over half a century.

This is the second incident of its kind in the Majha region in less than a week after the attack on the house of a former Sarpanch of Mehta by followers of the Damdami Taksal (Bhinderan) in Beas constituency in which seven Congress workers sustained injuries.

Congress leader Gurcharan Singh, district vice-president (Harijan cell) and Darshan Singh Chela, who were eyewitnesses to the incident, alleged that the Station House Officer, Mr Swaran Singh, helped the culprits to escape from the rear window of the police station.

After the incident, the town observed a complete bandh and agitated Congress workers resorted to jamming traffic for more than three hours. They also gheraoed the police station and served a 24-hour ultimatum to the police for arresting the culprits.

Among others who addressed the gathering at the protest dharna included Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, a former Congress minister, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, president, All-India Sikh Students Federation and the candidate of the Panthic Morcha from Patti, Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Mr Sukhpal Singh Baserke, district president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar). Leaders of various political parties alleged that the culprits opened fire at the behest of Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress Member of Parliament and father of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, Minister, Excise and Taxation. They sought the immediate suspension of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr Shamsher Singh and the SHO, Mr Swaran Singh. The AISSF chief demanded deployment of a paramilitary force in this sensitive constituency so that elections could be held in a free and fair manner. They alleged that the election observers ignored all complaints which were faxed to them by Congress leaders.

Mr Peter alleged that the culprits took the dead body in a jeep with the help of the police.

Former Congress Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar alleged that the police had distributed firearms to the Akali activists while the weapons of Congress leaders/workers were taken by the police at the behest of Mr Surinder Singh Kairon. Mr Tarlok Singh Chakwalia, a Congress candidate, alleged that the immediate provocation for opening fire in front of the police station was that he (Mr Chakwalia) was weighed in coins many times in the town yesterday. Interestingly, while addressing an election rally at Amarkot (Valtoha), Mr Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, had warned the DSP, Mr Shamsher Singh, for his alleged proximity to the Kairon family.

One Darshan Kaur and his son also sustained injuries in the incident.

Mr Harminder Singh Gill, a candidate of the Panthic Morcha alleged that his supporters were mercilessly beaten up by the supporters of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon a few days ago and two cases were registered against them. Had the police acted in an effective manner, today’s incident could have been averted.

The police has registered a case under Sections 307 and 34 of the IPC and Sections 25/27/54 and 27 of the Arms Act at the Bhikhiwind police station against the three alleged culprits.

Mr Tarlok Singh Chakwalia, the Congress candidate, announced to give Rs 20,000 to the family of the deceased, while Mr Baserke of the SAD (Mann) and Mr Harminder Singh Gill gave Rs 10,000 each. Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar said more compensation would be given to the family of the deceased by the Congress.



Amarinder condemns killing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab PCC chief, today strongly condemned the firing incident at Bhikhiwind in which one Congress worker was killed and another injured.

In a statement issued here, Capt Amarinder Singh said the incident which involved the brother of Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, a Minister in the Badal Cabinet, showed that the Akalis were getting more and more frustrated over the prospect of losing the forthcoming elections to the Punjab Assembly and resorting to violence.


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