A week after the death of Surjit Singh, a key witness of the 2015 Behbal Kalan firing incident, top leaders of both the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) visited his family on Thursday.
While Punjab Cabinet Minister Rana Sodhi visited them in the morning, SAD president Sukhbir Badal arrived in the afternoon.
Surjit’s son Lakhwinder said, “We told the minister (Sodhi) that my father was being harassed a lot after allegations of power theft were levelled against him. We had approached Faridkot MLA Kushaldeep Singh Kiki Dhillon and even the then power minister Gurpreet Kangar, but we did not get any help. The persons who troubled us were local Congress leader Manjinder Singh Bitta, Bargari chowki in-charge Gurvinder Singh, Munish Jagsir Singh, power corporation employees Kanwaljeet Singh, Tejpal Singh and Balwinder Singh. Let’s see if the government will be able to take action against them all.”
Sodhi assured the family that an inquiry will be conducted on their allegations and the guilty will be punished as per law. He was accompanied by Faridkot MP Mohd Sadiq and other Congress leaders.
Meanwhile, Sukhbir demanded a murder case against Congress Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar and advisor to Punjab CM Khushaldeep Singh Kiki Dhillon.
However, Kiki Dhillon said he was not even MLA of the area and hence his name should not be dragged into the matter.
Sodhi said, “The chief minister and Punjab government stand by the bereaved family at its time of loss.” He also conducted a meeting with district administration officials in order and directed them to ensure the family’s safety. “I condemn the reaction of some politicians of grinding their own axes over the death of Surjit Singh. Instead, they should support the family in its hour of despair.”
The minister told The Indian Express, “He (Surjit Singh) was the prime witness in the firing case. It is a great loss for the family. SAD has got nothing but to politicise the issue. I have asked the DC and SSP to constitute a fact-finding committee and see who were the guilty persons. It is wrong to mention any Congress MLA in this case as the issue was with some local leader.”
However, Sukhbir demanded the immediate dismissal of Kangar and Dhillon and a murder case against them on the basis of the family’s statement that the Congress leaders had caused Surjit’s death.
He also said that SAD would provide legal assistance to the family to secure justice in the case.
Stating that the role of the Congress in the “elimination of the lone witness in the Behbal Kalan firing case” to save the policemen who had fired upon innocent Sikhs had now come out in the open, and that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should now explain his inaction in the matter. “It is most shocking that no FIR has been registered in the case even after eight days and the guilty are roaming scot free despite a clear announcement by Jasbir Kaur that she would end her life if action is not taken against the Congress leaders.”
He also demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Speaking to the media, Sukhbir said the family had made it clear that the two Congress leaders had misused the police as well as the electricity department to force him not to give a witness account against the police personnel who opened fire at Behbal Kalan.
In response, Sodhi said, “It is a vague statement by SAD president. Why would Congress stop Surjit from giving statement as we are the ones who the want guilty to be punished.”
Two Sikh men, Krishna Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh, were killed after police allegedly opened fire at a crowd protesting against desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib near Behbal Kalan village of Kotkapura on October 14, 2015, when SAD was in power in the state.
Surjit, the key witness of the incident, had died of a heart attack on January 15 this year. His family had alleged that in November 2018, a raid been conducted by PSPCL in their home and a Rs 55,000 fine was imposed on them with charges of power theft. Lakhwinder had alleged that Gurpreet Kangar was power minister at that time. Lakhwinder said, “We ran from pillar to post but got no help, and were harassed continuously. This led to the death of my father, who was always under stress.”
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