Two days after the brutal murder of Dalit youth Sukchain Singh Pali, Mansa police has recovered the chopped limb from the fields of one Rajinder Singh of village Gharangna in Mansa district on Wednesday. Three of the six accused – Hardeep Singh, Balbir Singh and Sadhu Singh – were arrested, confirmed SSP Mansa Mukhwinder Singh. The remaining are yet to be arrested.
The limb was sent to the hospital mortuary, but the family refused to get the postmortem done. Aside from demanding the arrest of culprits and placing murder charges, the family also demanded Rs 20 lakhs compensation, job for a family member and inclusion of SC/ST act in this case.
Family of Pali has staged a dharna outside Mansa civil hospital, where Pali’s mother Karamjeet Kaur also alleged that Rajya Sabha MP and senior Akali leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder is protecting the accused and they were getting threats from the gang members of the accused to keep quiet or face consequences.
Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder however said, “I am not even in Mansa for the past many days and I have no details about the crime. So how the question arises of my connection with them. I don’t know anyone of the accused and for this heinous crime strictest punishment should be given to the culprits.”
The field from where the chopped limb was recovered is close to one of the accused Balbir Singh’s house where the dead body was recovered on Monday.
The police had lodged an FIR against six persons- Amandeep Singh, Hardeep Singh, Buta Singh, Babreek Singh, Sita Singh and Sadhu Singh on Monday midnight itself. The two accused- Hardeep Singh and Buta Singh (both brothers) – are relatives of one Niranjan Singh- driver of CM Parkash Singh Badal.
Pali’s mother said, “As the accused have political connections, we fear that we will not get justice. My son had left the liquor work 6 months back but despite that the rival group was after him and had fought with him a number of times. Now they have eliminated him.”
Pali was into illegal liquor smuggling which he had scaled down in the past six months as per the claims of his family members. He had three pending FIRs under his name in Mansa police station – among which two were under excise act (for illegal liquor smuggling and one for creating law and order problem).
Mansa DSP Jaspreet Singh confirmed about the FIRs against Pali and said, “3 FIRs have been lodged against Pali while the accused were also in illegal liquor business, they were not attached with any liquor contractor. Both groups had a criminal past.”
“The victim had a fight with Babreek Singh and Sita Singh, two days before the incident at their village Makhe. The rest four accused are from village Ghrangna which is also the resident of the victim,” he added.
Apart from the support of CPI(ML) and Mazdoor unions, PPCC spokesperson Sunil Jakhar came to meet the family at civil hospital Mansa on Wednesday along with Bheem Taank Murder Action Committee. Bheem Taank, also a Dalit, was found dead in Abohar with his hand and leg and chopped off in December last year.
Jakhar said, “CBI inquiry needs to be done in this case and a sitting judge should inquire in all the cases leading to murders with a background of liquor mafia. As most of the liquor business is in hands of Akalis, the culprits are always linked to ruling party. I am sure that men in question must be acting as a raiding party of liquor contractor of the area, who thus murdered a man who wanted to leave this business. Similar was the story in Bheem Taank case.”
Mansa SSP Mukwinder Singh, however, said, “There is no issue of caste in this case, as one of the accused- Babreek Singh is also a dalit . It is a case of rivalry in illegal liquor business and we are on the job to arrest the culprits. We have formed five teams and we are close in arresting all of them. No one will be spared.”
On being asked by The Indian Express about political pressure in the case as alleged by Pali’s family, he said,” I am not aware of any kind of political pressure as we are working independently and hence there is no question of any sort of interference from anyone.”
Niranjan Singh, one of the drivers of CM Parkash Singh Badal, whose two relatives have been booked in this FIR said, “I have nothing to do with this case and though two out of the six persons booked are my cousin’s grandsons, I am not in talking terms with them since long. And even if I had been on talking terms, law should take its own course and punish the culprits for this heinous crime.”
As the postmortem has not been done, it is still not known whether the limb was chopped off before or after the murder. The victim also had other injuries on his body, but details will be revealed once the post mortem is done.
Protest march by various associations
Members of CPI(ML), Mazdoor unions and few other unions took out a protest march in support of the family at a time when Congress leader Sunil Jakhar came to meet the family. The family, however, did not join in this march. Bheem Taank’s mother Kaushalaya Devi came along and met with Karamjeet Kaur, Pali’s mother.