THE COURT of additional sessions judge Lakhwinder Kaur Duggal Monday acquitted all the four suspects in the Orbit bus molestation death case of Moga citing “lack of evidence.” On April 29, 2015, a 13-year-old-girl Arshdeep Kaur died after she was allegedly molested and pushed out of a moving bus along with her mother Shinder Kaur. The bus belonged to Orbit Transport Company, co-owned by former Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The court Monday acquitted all the four suspects – the bus driver Ranjit Singh, conductor Sukhwinder Singh alias Pamma and helpers – Amar Ram and Gurdeep Singh – who were booked in FIR for murder, molestation and SC/ST Act on the statement of Shinder Kaur, mother of the girl and a co-victim.
The prime witnesses in the case, Shinder Kaur (mother) and Akashdeep (brother) of the girl, who had accompanied her in the bus that day, had turned hostile in court. The mother even failed to identify the four of them and said she ‘does not remember anything’. The father Sukhdev Singh also turned hostile, claiming he does not remember what happened with his wife and daughter. The brother Akashdeep, who is a minor, just said that he remembers his mother and sister being pushed out of the bus but could not identify the persons.
On February 9 last year, the mother also refused to identify the four suspects who were also present in the courtroom and claimed that she never met them adding that there was ‘no molestation with either two of them’ and that she ‘does not remember if they were pushed off the bus.’ In her earlier statements to the Moga police during registration of FIR, the mother alleged that the ‘duo was molested with obscene language and gestures and then pushed out’ from the Orbit bus.
The incident led to nationwide outrage and the opposition, then led by the Congress, demanded closure of Badal’s transport businesses. The victim was cremated following widespread protests and family agreed for cremation after getting Rs 24 lakh as compensation and promise of a government job for the father. The incident had even forced Sukhbir Badal to take off his buses from roads for a few days and the staff undergoing an etiquette course on how to talk to women passengers.
Anup Inder Singh Sekhon and Ramandeep Singh Aulakh, counsel for the suspects, said, “The prosecution failed to produce enough evidence against our clients.” The then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had also constituted an inquiry commission led by Justice V K Bali which also submitted its report to the department of home affairs in 2016 but without finding any evidence against the suspects as all the witnesses turned hostile.
‘Still waiting for promised govt job’ Meanwhile, Sukhdev Singh, father of the girl, who is working as a daily wager doing odd jobs, said that he has nothing to do with the verdict pronounced by the court but still waiting for the promised government job.
“I have nothing to do with the verdict. I am not interested in what court has said or if the four persons are punished or not. God will see to it but I am waiting for my job,” he said.
“Badal saab had promised me government job but it has been two years that I am running here and there to get that job. I do not even remember how many times I have visited office of deputy commissioner. I even went to Lambi to meet Badal saab and then to Chandigarh to meet Captain Amarinder Singh. I was not allowed to meet both. Is this how the promises made with the poor people are fulfilled by the government?” questioned Sukhdev.