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Hoshiarpur observes complete bandh
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, February 16
To lodge their protest against the brutal killing of Abhi Verma, alias Harry, and the failure of the police to protect him, irate residents of the town observed a near total bandh today.

Curfew-like situation prevailed here as the district courts, educational institutes, main bazars and the majority of business establishments remained closed in response to the bandh call given by social and religious organisations and the District Bar Association.

Lawyers did not attend courts to show their solidarity with the aggrieved family and to share its grief. Even kiosk-owners and rehriwalas did not do any business as a mark of protest against Harry’s murder.

Hundreds of well-wishers of the Verma family, members of the Sanatan Mahavir Dal, Shiv Sena and Shivratri Utsav Committee participated in a protest rally and marched towards the Milap Nagar house of suspect Jasbir Singh, where they shouted slogans against him, his family and the district police. Some protesters tried to throw stones at the Jasbir Singh’s house, but they were prevented from doing so by police officials, who, were deployed there in large numbers.

The slogan-shouting protesters marched to Prabhat Chowk, where they blocked the traffic and shouted slogans against the police and its failure to protect Harry.

Slogan-shouting groups of youth had to face a mild cane charge at Phagwara chowk and near the bus stand in which Manish Chauhan, a relative of Harry, Shivam and Vishal, two other protesters, are reported to have injured.

Meanwhile, BJP workers, led by the state BJP chief, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP, held a dharna in front of the Kotwali. They alleged that the law and order situation had deteriorated to such an extent that the Amarinder Singh government had no moral right to remain in power. Criticising the red alert sounded by the police after the abduction of Harry, the BJP leaders said it was of no use as the abductors kept moving about freely with the body of the deceased dumped in the boot of their car. They also demanded a CBI inquiry into the circumstances leading to the tragic death of Harry.

Some stray incidents of violence were reported from different localities of the city. A group of youths tried to stop the vehicular traffic near Hotel Presidency Chowk and Kamalpur Chowk. They also threw stones on buses, smashing window panes of four buses. The police made a mild lathi charge to disperse the mob.

The SSP, Hoshiarpur denied the lathi charge and said the law and order situation was complete by under control. He said further investigations into the kidnapping and killing of Harry were under progress.

Meanwhile, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, alleged that kidnapping for ransom was first started in Bihar. Mr Bitta was addressing a press conference at the local PWD Rest House today after consoling the parents of Harry. Many cases of kidnapping had been reported from various districts and the state government had failed to check the menace, he said. He feared that the rising incidence of kidnappings would encourage the revival of terrorism in the state.

Amritsar: Mr Oscar Fernandes, MP and General Secretary, All-India Congress Committee (AICC), while commenting on the case of abduction of school going children in Punjab said it was a recent national phenomena and all states should chalk out a strategy to curb the menace.

He was addressing mediapersons here today after completing his whirlwind visit to Ajnala. He said what was happening in Punjab was not an isolated case but had occurred in Bihar, West Bengal, UP and Jharkhand too.

Mr Fernandes said the state governments and police needed to be extra vigilant to tackle the situation.

The despicable manner in which Abhi Verma, alias Harry, 14, of Hoshiarpur was killed had pressed almost all political parties to demand severe punishment for abduction. Leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress felt that the punishment would deter the serve as a deterrent for such kidnappers.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP and general secretary, SAD, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former state Finance Minister and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former minister in the SAD government in a joint press note issued here today severely condemned the crime.

While Congress leaders, including Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Prisons and Defence Services and Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, demanded capital punishment for the accused involved in the kidnapping of children.


Police remand for kidnappers

Hoshiarpur, February 16
Chief Judicial Magistrate Kishor Chand today remanded all the three kidnappers of Abhi Verma in police custody till February 19.

The police had yesterday arrested Varinder Singh, alias Vicky, Jasvir Singh and his wife Soni for kidnapping and killing Abhi Verma.

During the preliminary interrogation, the suspects revealed that they had kidnapped the boy for ransom. They brought Abhi Verma to Jasvir Singh’s house where they gave him an injection which resulted in his death. Then they took the body and threw it in the fields of Alawalpur village in the adjoining Jalandhar district.

The body was found by some locals in Alawapur yesterday morning. — UNI

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