In view of the forthcoming Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) polls scheduled for August 26, the Chandigarh Police has beefed up security on the PU campus. However, the police track record in dealing with the students’ poll-related violence has been extremely shoddy.
In the last eight years, at least 36 poll-related violence cases were registered by the Chandigarh Police. These criminal cases had over 100 repeat offenders. However, out of these 36 criminal cases, the prosecution could secure conviction of the accused in only one case while in over 20 cases, the accused have walked free. The sole case in which a student leader was convicted in 2012 was also related to passing obscene remarks. As far as the heinous crime cases, including attempt to murder, or the ones related to the Arms Act are concerned, the accused are getting scot-free. There are a few cases in which the students have even been declared as proclaimed offenders and are still absconding.
In order to prevent any further clashes on the PU campus, the Chandigarh Police has prepared a list of about 200 students against whom criminal cases were registered in the last eight years. In addition to this, a list of 130 vehicles with their registration numbers has also been prepared. All these vehicles shall also be kept under watch during the poll season.
As many as 11 criminal cases were registered in 2012, and the accused in five cases were acquitted. Investigation is going on in the remaining five cases. The case in which the maximum number of student leaders were booked was registered in 2010 when members of PUSU clashed amongst themselves and attacked each other with swords. In this case, 16 students were booked. They were Simrandeep Singh Sandhu, Bhavjit Singh, Ranjodh Singh, Jagpreet Singh, Gurjeet Singh, Manish Kumar, Vikramjit Singh, Sukhjit Singh Brar, Resham Singh, Ravinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Udayvir Singh Waring, Arshvir Singh Johal, Simranjit Singh Dhillon and Gurvir Singh. The case is still under investigation, even after five years.
There are other student leaders, including Barinder Singh Dhillon from NSUI, Vikramjit Singh (alias Vicky) from SOI, SOPU supporter Amandeep Singh Multani, Rashpal Singh from SOI and former presidents of SOPU Harpreet Singh Multani and Arshdeep Brar (alias Robin Brar) who are listed as accused in multiple criminal cases.
They all, however, continue to get acquitted in all the cases against them. Barinder Singh has been booked and acquitted in three criminal intimidation cases since 2007. Similarly, since 2010, Vikramjit Singh Vicky and Arshdeep Singh (alias Robin Brar) have been booked and acquitted in two and three criminal cases respectively. Vikramjit Singh Vicky, Arshdeep Singh (alias Robin Brar), Rashpal Pal Singh and Amadeep Singh Multani were booked and acquitted in a case of criminal intimidation and attempt to murder (Section 307 of the IPC) in 2010.
The accused student leaders, however, claim that they were falsely implicated in criminal cases. Vikramjit Singh said, “I was booked in two cases, which were merely allegations against me. That is why I was eventually acquitted.”
Barinder Singh said that three cases were registered against him when he served as the president of NSUI in 2007 and 2008. “Many times, other student parties deliberately bring up allegations against prominent faces of the party in an attempt to defame them. This is why these cases were registered against me as a result of minor arguments.”
In 2009, Gurtej Singh Pannu and Karan Daulat from PUSU were arrested under sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act for possession of an unlicensed rifle. A similar case was registered against Simranjit Singh, Gurjeet Singh, Simrandeep Singh, Harkamal Multani and Parmider Jaswal. These student leaders were also booked on charges of criminal intimidation and attempt to murder. The case is sill under investigation.
In 2012, Sukhdeep Singh was also booked and eventually acquitted for possession of an unlicensed rifle. Yet again, all the cases resulted in acquittal of the accused. In 2014, four cases were registered against 11 student leaders from various parties. One case was cancelled, whereas the remaining three are still under investigation.
According to the police, accused students managed to arrive at a compromise with the complainants. Therefore, the cases fell flat. DSP Satish Kumar said, “In around 90 per cent of the cases, the students enter into a compromise with the accused/complainant which is why they are eventually acquitted. In the remaining 10 per cent cases, investigation is going on, and they will also most likely end up in acquittal.”