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Dalit youth dies in police custody
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur), February 21
Harjeet Singh, a Dalit youth of Niko Sarai village in Dera Baba Nanak area was killed in Batala police’s custody allegedly due to torture. The police cremated his body at night without informing his family.

Harjeet Singh along with his brother Nirmal Singh were picked up 10 days ago by the police on the charge of theft and kept in Civil Lines Police Station of Batala.

Yesterday Harjeet Singh died allegedly due to severe torture in police custody. Instead of handing over the body to his family panicked police officials cremated the body of the deceased. Police officials also took signatures on certain papers from the illiterate father of the deceased to cover up their tracks.

Residents of Niko Sarai village today met Parliamentary Secretary for agriculture Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who represents the area to narrate their woes. They alleged that the mother of deceased used to work as maid in the house of a Congress leader here and hockey coach.

Some material went missing from the house of the Congress leader. He lodged a complaint. The police picked deceased Harjeet Singh up and his brother Nirmal Singh on suspicion. Both were kept in illegal custody and tortured that led to the death of Harjeet Singh. Condition of Nirmal Singh is also stated to be serious. The police allegedly was not presenting him before members of his family.

The villagers threatened to gherao the SSP Batala if a case was not made against the guilty policemen.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa assured action against the guilty policemen. He said that he would take up the matter of custodial death with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for action against guilty officials. The policemen have proved their guilt by cremating the deceased without informing family members and further taking signatures on unexplained from the illiterate father of the deceased.

I have talked to the SSP Batala and the DIG border range on the matter and they had assured to look into the matter, he said.

Sources available here said higher police officials were busy holding meeting to tackle the matter. The opposition parties have started targeting the ruling party and the police for the incident. They are alleging that the police terror had been let loose in the district by the officers concerned at behest of ruling party leaders.

Meanwhile IG Jalandhar zone HS Dhillon has suspended the SHO Batala civil lines police station, the ASI and munshi assisting him.

Mr Dhillon at a press conference today evening said that after receiving the information regarding the custodial death of an accused in a theft case Harjeet Singh he ordered DIG border range HS Randhawa to inquire into the case.

The DIG in preliminary inquiry has found lots of ifs and buts in the case. Proper procedure as laid by the court or the Punjab Human Rights Commission was not followed in the case. This raises suspicion regarding the cause of the death of the accused in custody.

To ensure a fair inquiry into the case all suspended officials have also been moved out of the Batala police district. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has also been registered.

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