Saturday, August 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Drunken cops kill boy in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Gurpreet’s father Jinder Pal remonstrates with SSP P.S. Umranagal as Gurpreet lies dead on a stretcher in Patiala on Friday.
Gurpreet’s father Jinder Pal remonstrates with SSP P.S. Umranagal as Gurpreet lies dead on a stretcher in Patiala on Friday. — Photo Subhash Patialavi

Patiala, August 1
Two drunk policemen, who were on duty, played a cruel “sport” with an 11-year-old boy in a vegetable-cum-tea shop in front of the National Institute of Sports here this afternoon, which ended in his death. The “sport”, which involved teaching the child how to fire a revolver, resulted in a hole in the chest of the only boy of poor parents who eke out their living as daily wage workers.

The policemen, both Head Constables, were on patrol duty close to the residence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. “Nothing has happened” the cops claimed when the boy, Gurpreet, alias Kaka, collapsed. After they realised the enormity of their act, they bundled the boy on their motor cycle and took him to the local government Rajindra hospital. There they claimed that he had been hit by an accidental shot from one of their revolvers. Doctors declared the boy brought dead.

The reputation of the two Head Constables, Ranjit Singh and Balwinder Singh, however, proved to be their undoing. Witnesses came up to report that Gurpreet had been killed in cold blood following which a case of murder was registered against both cops, who were later arrested.

According to an FIR registered at the Sadar police station by a witness, Miyan, the two cops were drunk when they came to the shop from a police cabin across the road as it had started raining. Miyan said in his FIR that the cops asked the boy for glasses and tea. He said one of the cops, Ranjit, asked Gurpeet to come to him saying, “I will show you how a revolver is fired”. According to the FIR, the boy said he was frightened and refused to do the bidding of the cop.

Following this Miyan said Ranjit fired in the air saying, “See it is a fake weapon having only sound”. He said Ranjit again asked the boy to come to him, but when the boy refused to do so, the other cop, Balwinder Singh, caught hold of a hand of the boy and brought him to Ranjit. The witness said that Balwinder then asked his colleague to put the weapon on the chest of the boy. Ranjit then fired the weapon which struck the chest of the boy leading to his death.

Another boy, Bachhi, who was standing a few feet away from the site of the incident told TNS that he was so close to the site that he even smelt the smoke from the gun immediately afterwards. “It was like a lightning noise following which there was calm as Gurpreet succumbed without even making a noise”, he added. “Gurpeet did not ask for anything. There was no quarrel”, he added.

Others witnesses said both cops were frequent visitors to the tea shop. The shopkeepers around and other persons said the cops used to frequent one shop or the other during duty hours as they were responsible for patrolling in the area. “As they were themselves responsible for maintaining peace, no one ever protested against their drinking during duty hours”, they said.

Meanwhile, the weeping father of the boy, 40-year-old Jinder Pal, said, “I put him to work at the shop as I could not afford his education.” Jinder was seen remonstrating with police officials claiming his son’s life had been taken due to no fault of his. Some relatives of the family, while speaking at their two-room unplastered home in Dhillon Colony near Mohindra College, said Gurpreet was born after his two sisters, both of whom were in their teens.

They said Gurpreet’s mother Bant Kaur, worked in various houses in the locality as a domestic help, adding that the mother was at someone’s house when the family learnt that Gurpreet had been fired upon.

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