M A I N   N E W S

Attack on AAP leader: Party protests police inaction
Aman Sood
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 1
Aam Aadmi Party’s Patiala candidate Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, three other party candidates and their supporters from various parts of Punjab staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today. They were demanding inclusion of “attempt to murder” charge in the FIR against local SAD councillor Rajinder Virk, who allegedly led an attack on Gandhi yesterday.

The AAP leaders alleged the police were trying to shield the SAD councillor and his “goons”. Hundreds of youth and local residents joined the protest, seeking strict action against the accused.

AAP leaders accused the police of deliberately registering an FIR under bailable sections on the statement of Gurmeet Singh, police gunman attached with Gandhi. The SSP said Gandhi had refused to file a complaint — a claim vehemently denied by the AAP leader. The police did not seek police remand of the SAD councillor and he was remanded in judicial custody, thus paving the way for his bail. AAP candidate from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann, Ludhiana candidate HS Phoolka and Bathinda candidate Jassi Jasraj joined Gandhi in the protest.

A video footage in possession of The Tribune shows that SAD councillor Virk was standing near the spot of crime before Gandhi reached the polling booth.

AAP leaders questioned the security officials present there about the entry of outsiders into the polling booth. A police constable assured them that it would not be allowed.

Gandhi was told by an AAP activist that one of their workers had been slapped, following which the AAP candidate rushed towards the man who had allegedly slapped the worker. A few minutes later, Gandhi is seen in a pool of blood, while his security man has lost his turban.

“Despite our repeated requests to the police, Rajinder Singh Virk continued to visit polling stations, threatening our workers and even entering the polling stations taking advantage of his clout with local policemen,” Gandhi alleged.

“When we confronted him (Virk) in Rasoolpur Saidan, he pushed me aside and attacked me. He continued to kick and punch me even after I had fallen on the ground,” Gandhi said.

Bhagwant Mann accused the Patiala police of playing into the hands of the state government and not bothering to ascertain the facts. “The Punjab Police can go to any extent to ensure that their political masters are happy,” he said.

HS Phoolka said “such attacks were against the basic norms of democracy”.

AAP leaders flayed the police for hurriedly lodging an FIR on the statement of Gandhi’s gunman, instead of Gandhi himself. “Instead of initially lodging a Daily Diary Report and waiting for my medical report, the police lodged the FIR on statement of Gurmeet Singh, who is also a Punjab Police official,” Gandhi said.

AAP leaders submitted a memorandum to District Returning Officer (DRO) Priyanak Bharti, demanding action against Akali workers, in four incidents in which the police had allegedly failed to take action against Akali workers who attacked AAP men. “Due to the inaction of the police and the administration, Rajinder Singh Virk felt confident. He continued to threaten workers, besides indulging in violence, bogus voting and booth capturing. Despite complaints, the police failed to check his activities and virtually gave him a free hand to continue threatening our workers and later assault the AAP candidate,” reads the complaint.

SSP Hardyal Mann said they registered the FIR following a complaint by Gandhi’s gunman as Gandhi had refused to file a complaint. “We will add his statement to the FIR, once his medical report is received and he makes an official statement,” he said. He had received the video footage and would minutely examine it, he added.

Gandhi refuted the statement of the SSP claiming that he was always willing to file a complaint and an FIR.





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