Wednesday, June 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Excesses yes, but not as claimed by SAD-BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
No one can deny that in Punjab the affluent and the influential, besides those in power, have been misusing their connections, especially in the police, to browbeat their opponents, get them implicated in false cases and settle scores.

Unfortunately, irrespective of the political party in power, the police has always been the whipping boy. Until the beginning of this year, when the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance was in power, most Congressmen and workers of other political parties had been complaining of police excesses and implication of innocent persons in false cases.

With a few exceptions, men and officers selected by the political “bosses” are posted to man police stations , subdivisions and police districts.

Senior police officers, on condition of anonymity , admit that the “force is being misused to browbeat political opponents of the ruling party” maintaining that this “is mostly done at the lower level, at the level of station house officer,” and seldom at the level of district police chief or higher.

Following a hue and cry raised by the SAD chief-cum-former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has agreed to send its team on a “probe mission” to Punjab, probably after the Assembly session ends on June 28, to look into “specific charges made by SAD and BJP leaders.”

Investigations by The Tribune reveal that complaints of political vendetta are nothing new to Punjab.

In certain areas, police excesses emerged as an important issue in the last Assembly elections and cost the then ruling alliance dear.

But with the change of political bosses in the state, things have not changed the way they should have. Now the same SAD-BJP leadership is day in and day out accusing the Congress government of “misusing the police” to “harass and implicate both SAD and BJP workers” in false cases.

The usual modus operandi for harassing political opponents is the registration of cases under either the Excise Act or Sections 107 and 151 of the Cr P C. But, of late, things have become serious.

The murders at Bhikhiwind and Midhu Khera have opened a new channel of “exterminating” political enemies.

LUDHIANA: Only a few cases of political vendetta or victimisation have been reported from Ludhiana, Khanna, Jagraon and Fatehgarh Sahib districts following the formation of the Congress government.

Enquiries made by TNS reveal that barring allegations levelled by an Akali leader, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, that the Ludhiana police is not properly investigating an alleged dowry death case of his niece or the arrest of some Akali sympathisers in the Aman Sood murder case in Khanna or one or two cases involving village politics, no major controversial case of political victimisation has been reported from this belt.

The major activity — dubbed a witch-hunt by several politicians — witnessed was raids and arrests by the Vigilance Department. The Vigilance Bureau has mainly booked government officials — both gazetted and non-gazetted — on charges of corruption. So far, only one case against a politician has been registered — Mr Madan Mohan Vyas, a former Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust. But that was before the elections.

In Khanna, the Aman Sood murder case needs to be mentioned. The case is over two years old and remained “ unsolved” due to the alleged proximity of two suspects to some Akali leaders. Just after the change of government, the police sprang into action and arrested an accused and claimed that the case had been solved.

Another case pertains to an attack on an Akali worker, Mr Shivinder Singh. A group of more than eight persons attacked him at his house and beat him up. He lodged a complaint and a case under Section 307 of the IPC was registered at the city police station. He identified certain attackers, but the police did not arrest anyone. Instead an Akali worker and some others were nabbed, although the complainant filed an affidavit affirming that the arrested youth (Tanveer Singh) and others were not involved in the case.

In yet another instance, the Akali sarpanch of Rattanheri village was removed by the BDO. The sarpanch alleged that the officer had allowed a panch to attend the meeting of the panchayat although he had been under suspension for the past two years. He alleged that with the help of the “ invalid” vote, the BDO recommended that an administrator should be appointed to look after the affairs of the panchayat. It was only after the intervention of the Director, Panchayats, that the decision was reversed.

FEROZEPORE: In the aftermath of the state Assembly elections, the reverses suffered by the Shiromani Akali Dal and its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, have added to the woes of party leaders and their workers who allegedly played with the law during the tenure of their government in the past five years. In Ferozepore district many criminal cases have been registered against Akali and BJP workers/leaders.

In one of the recent cases, the Jalalabad police booked, under Sections 188, 379, 323, 324, 307, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC Mr Zora Singh Mann, SAD MP from the Ferozepore constituency, his brother Jagnandan Singh and two sons, Vardev Singh and Nardev Singh, on charges of assault and theft following a dispute over a piece of land in his village, Chak Suhele Wala.

The SAD leader, however, alleged that he had nothing to do with the disputed land that was being cultivated by the owners for the past five years. Investigations reveal that two MLAs of the ruling party approached the police to register a case against the MP and his family. Jagnandan Singh was in the village when the incident took place and was also attacked by the rival group. He even sustained injuries and got medical treatment from a private nursing home in Muktsar. But no case has so far been registered by the police on his request against supporters of the ruling party.

A staunch supporter of the SAD, Mr Baldev Singh, sarpanch of Mahmu Joian village, was dismissed from the elected post soon after the formation of the Congress government. Later, on the request of panches of the village, a case of fraud was registered against him on a charge of allotting 5.5 marla plots to his “favourites” that were meant for the Scheduled Castes.

A case of assault was registered against the BJP leader and the then Forest Minister, Mr Surjit Kumar Jayani, on February 13 on a complaint of Mr Mahavir Singh, a resident of Karnikhera village in Fazilka subdivision. Interestingly, apart from him, his son, brother and chairman of the local Marketing Committee, Mr Sohan Singh, were also booked under Section 307 of the IPC. The complainant admitted that he was a supporter of the Congress but was being forced by Jayani and his supporters to accompany them for campaigning in favour of the BJP. He alleged that the then Minister entered his house forcibly on the evening of February 13 and fired at him from a pistol, but he escaped. Later his brother, Narendra, attacked him with an axe, injuring him on his head. The former Minister has, however, denied his involvement in the incident and has filed a suit against the local police in the Sessions Court. The police booked the then sitting SAD MLA, Mr Sher Singh, from the Jalalabad constituency on a charge of beating up an ETO in the police station when he was allegedly found to have violated the Excise Act.

The Ferozepore cantonment police station registered a case of minor scuffle with a police party, with the intervention of the Election Commission, against Mr Joginder Singh Jindu, a member of the Cantonment Board, during the elections. He was a staunch supporter of the then Irrigation Minister, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, who helped him get bail from a Tehsildar without formal arrest. The Tehsildar, was however, not entitled to grant bail to him. Party viewpoints may be different in all these cases, but one thing is clear that certain SAD or BJP leaders were somehow involved in cases that have been registered against them except in the case of Mr Jora Singh Mann.

— With inputs from Prabhjot Singh (Chandigarh), Amarjit Thind (Ludhiana) and Kulwinder Sandhu (Ferozepore).

(To be concluded)

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |