Thursday, October 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Armed man takes girl hostage in Jalandhar
Demands meeting with DGP
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 15
Fear gripped the city as an unidentified person armed with two pistols abducted a seven-year-old daughter of an advocate and took her hostage in her house in Adarsh Nagar locality this afternoon, forcing the police to launch a big operation — throwing a security ring around the house and laying siege to the entire locality for hours together.

The 25-plus abductor of medium build, who is also said to have fired two shots in the air to scare away the family members, injured the mother of the girl with the pistol butt as she tried to save her daughter from his clutches. The abductor has demanded a meeting with the Punjab DGP, and has threatened to kill the girl if it is denied.

The abductor entered the house of advocate Ashok Kumar Sonik around 3 p.m. Almost at the same time Ashna and Arjun, a fifth class student, returned from their school.

Narrating the incident the mother (Seema) said: ‘‘When the children came in I asked Arjun whether he had closed the door? After closing the door when he returned he was accompanied by a person, who pointed two revolvers at me and asked me to count from 1 to 10. Feeling stunned, I told him that for the sake of my children I would count even upto 20. He took out a live cartridge from the chamber of the revolver and coolly said: ‘If it hits somebody it can even kill the poor guy’. Understanding that something had really gone wrong, I, mustered courage, pushed him back and rushed towards the door with Arjun. In his bid to prevent me he hit me with the revolver butt, but I managed to come outside, even as he caught hold of Ashna’’.

Later, neighbours and onlookers who converged on the place after hearing Seema’s cries, informed the police, which cordoned off the area after officials failed to persuade the abductor to release Ashna.

Giving clues about the appearance of the abductor, a frightened Seema said he was speaking in chaste Punjabi but seemed to be a migrant labourer.

Senior police officers, including the SSP, Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, reached the spot and tried to persuade the abductor to release the girl. But the effort, which continued for over four hours proved to be a futile exercise.

While cold drinks were arranged for the alleged criminal, Mr Sidhu tried to persuade the abductor by making an announcement with the help of the PCR motorcycle team that if he released the girl, all his demands would be fulfilled.

The father of the girl also appealed to abductor to free his daughter on the public address system fitted on a PCR team motorcycle.

The police authorities, who were apprehending that cross-firing could also take place anytime for the standoff between the two sides, summoned commando units. As darkness descended floodlights were affixed on rooftops of adjoining houses to help in the event of sudden storming of the building. Residents of the adjoining buildings have been asked to vacate their house temporarily as a precautionary measure.


SSP threatens to book mediapersons
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 15
Irked by the non-resolution of hostage incident here, senior police officials ordered mediapersons to leave the area. The SSP, Mr Harpreet Sidhu, threatened journalists by saying since they were "interfering" in law and order matter, cases could be registered against them.

SSP Sidhu, who was visibly upset over the situation, picked up mike from a PCR motor cycle and ordered mediapersons to leave the area. He even went to the extent of saying that "Eh law and order da maamla hai, tuhade pio daa raaj nahin" and ordered mediapersons to alight from the rooftops of nearby houses.

This was followed by manhandling of mediapersons by a group of policemen led by an Inspector, who pushed them away from the site. "Sahib da hukam hai, challo ethon," he said.

Later, SP Pawan Rai maintained that journalists covering the event were interfering in the duty of policemen, for which cases could be registered against them. When he was told that they were doing their duty and then how they were interfering in the work of police officials, he retorted, "I don't owe any explanation to anybody.

The behaviour of policemen was condemned by the Jalandhar Working Journalists Welfare Society. Mediapersons have decided to hold a meeting at 11 am tomorrow to discuss the situation in view of threats of registration of cases by police officials.Back

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