M A I N   N E W S

Self-immolation victim dies
Son holds out similar threat
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
Mr Gopal Krishan Kashyap, a Congress worker and president, Rajiv Gandhi Prantha Rehri Union, Patiala, who set himself on fire in full public view near the local bus stand yesterday to lodge his protest against alleged high-handedness of the Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Mr Vishnu Sharma, and the Adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, died due to cardiac arrest at the local Rajindra Hospital today.

Though a team of specialists headed by Dr Surinder Singh, head, Department of Surgery, Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, was put on the job to save Mr Kashyap, who suffered more than 90 per cent burn injuries and was battling for life since yesterday, he was declared dead at 2.50 pm today by Dr Inderjit Singh Chawla, head, ICU wing of the hospital.

Interestingly, Mr Vishal Kashyap, a teenaged son of the deceased, has already held out a threat that he, along with other members of his family, would immolate themselves in the same fashion if his father died. He also alleged that his father had taken the extreme step as he, along with other rehriwalas, were being harassed by the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, and others.

Dr Chawla, while talking to TNS, said Mr Kashyap suffered cardiac arrest in the morning but was saved by the team of doctors attending on him at that time. Again Mr Kashyap suffered cardiac arrest in the afternoon and he could not be saved despite best efforts by the doctors.

He said he had handed over the body to the police at 3 pm and the same was then taken to the mortuary. He said a post-mortem examination would be conducted by a panel of doctors.

Mr Kashyap, who set himself on fire in the presence of policemen, was taken to Rajindra Hospital in a critical condition immediately. He was immediately put on treatment and his statement was also recorded by the police. A case under Section 309, IPC, was also registered against him.

Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Adviser to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, may land in trouble on account of the incident.

An indication to this effect was given by none else than the Chief Minister who was talking to mediapersons at the local Rajindra Hospital where he went today to meet the family members of the victm.

When asked whether the allegations levelled by Mr Kashyap before the electronic media and other journalists against Mr Chahal and Mr Sharma would be taken as the dying declaration for launching criminal proceedings against them, the Chief Minister said action would be taken as per law. He, however, said that this could not be taken as a direct signal towards Mr Chahal and Mr Sharma.

The Chief Minister said action would be taken as per the findings of the magisterial probe being conducted by the local Sub- Divisional Magistrate on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner.

He, however, made it clear that neither Mr Chahal nor Mr Sharma would be asked to quit their present assignments.

Mr Kashyap set himself on fire after addressing a rally near the bus stand yesterday afternoon. Before setting himself on fire, he categorically alleged that Mr Sharma and Mr Chahal had been harassing rehri pullers by creating hurdles in the allotment of sheds to them as promised by the Municipal Corporation authorities after they were uprooted from their business premises to carry out beautification of the city on the eve of the Indo-Pak Punjab Games held in 2004.

Mr Kashyap also alleged that Mr Sharma had been demanding money. He added that both Mr Chahal and Mr Sharma had been causing harm to the Congress Party

Though Mr Kashyap made his intention to carry out self- immolation clear to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Congress Party supremo Ms Sonia Gandhi, Commissioner and Mayor, MC, Patiala, by sending them emergency fax messages on January 18, he could not be prevented from taking this extreme step despite the presence of policemen at the spot.

The Chief Minister said the probe into the incident would be conducted without any pulls and pressures. Nobody, whose name figured in the report, would be spared. Terming the incident as unfortunate, he said a police official had been suspended for his failure in taking timely action to prevent the incident.

The Chief Minister pointed out that the family of the deceased would not be allowed to face any economic hardship. He added that a team of eminent doctors belonging to two hospitals of Ludhiana had been pressed into service for treating Mr Kashyap. 



PHRC orders inquiry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has taken serious notice of the self-immolation by Gopal Krishan Kashyap at Patiala yesterday and ordered an inquiry to be conducted by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) attached with PHRC.

After an urgent meeting of the Commission, presided over by its Chairperson, Justice N.C. Jain, the Commission said: “The Commission had gone through the contents of the news-item appearing in ‘The Tribune’ under the caption, Rehri owner sets himself on fire at Patiala and Zee TV and Aaj Tak channels, and considers that it is a fit case for taking cognizance under Section 17 (ii) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1983”.

The PHRC has directed the IGP to conduct an inquiry and submit a report to the Commission within a month. The Commission has further directed all concerned to cooperate with the investigating officer, besides asking the news channels to submit a CD of the news coverage pertaining to this event to the Commission.



Rs 10 lakh relief for deceased’s family
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today expressed grief and sorrow over death of rehriwallah and Congress worker Gopal Krishan Kashyap, who set himself ablaze yesterday died of burns in the Rajindra Hospital here this afternoon.

The Chief Minister said it was really a shocking and unfortunate incident and assured that the government would look after the family of deceased. The Chief Minister announced Rs 10 lakh as immediate relief and a government job to next of kin of the deceased.



Badal wants Mayor, Chahal booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 25
Describing immolation by Gopal Krishan Kashyap of Patiala as a black spot on the Congress government of the state, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, sought registration of cases under Section 302 of the IPC against Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Adviser to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor of Patiala.

Addressing newspersons here today Mr Badal announced that the SGPC would grant Rs 1 lakh to the family of Mr Kashyap and he would visit Patiala tomorrow.

He said the incident of immolation was the most tragic and sent wrong signals to the rest of the country and the world. Mr Badal said Mr Amarinder Singh should own moral responsibility and resign. It also showed failure of the police and the civil administration in handling the situation. He demanded a high-level judicial inquiry into the incident.

He said it also exposed hypocrisy of senior Congress leaders who always maintained that workers of the party must be given due respect but in this case Mr Kashyap, who raised the just and genuine demands of rehriwallahs, had to pay with his life for being heard.

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