Shinder Kaur, the prime witness and the mother of 13-year old Arshdeep Kaur who died after being allegedly molested and pushed off an Orbit bus in Moga on April 29, last year, turned hostile in a Moga court on Tuesday.
Denying her alleged earlier statements to the Moga police, that both she and her daughter had been molested and thrown off the bus, Shinder Kaur told the court that she “did not remember a single detail” of what happened that day. She also refused to identify the four accused who were present in the courtroom and claimed that she had never met.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a source present in the courtroom confirmed that the mother refused to list out any detail of the incident and did not even corroborate the date of the incident. “She said that neither her nor Arshdeep were molested. In fact, when asked about confirmation of the date of the incident, she also refused to verify that.
Then she said that she couldn’t remember if they were pushed out of the bus by the accused or slipped on their own. When the four accused, currently imprisoned, were presented before her for identification, she said she had never met them and failed to identify them”.
Shinder Kaur was asked about the statements that she had recorded earlier with the police, after which a case of murder and molestation was registered against the accused. “She was asked three specific questions. The first was on what basis, she had earlier claimed that obscene language and gestures were hurled at them before they were pushed out of the bus. She said that she was unwell and and could not remember.
Then the prosecution pointed towards the four accused and asked her to verify if they were the same people. She claimed that she had never met them. She was finally confronted with a question on the hefty compensation she has received from the opposite party (Rs 24 lakh) and was asked if that was the reason she was refusing to identify the accused. She replied that she was mentally unwell and that she did not want to comment further,” the source said.
Shinder, however, did tell the court that she had boarded the Orbit bus – which belonged to a transport company co-owned by Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal – in Moga and that she had had an argument over the ticket price, but added that she fell unconscious. “She said that she fainted and was in an unconscious state when the entire episode happened. She had no further details of how she and her daughter landed up outside the bus,” the source said.
On December 11, it was the victim’s father, Sukhdev Singh, who turned hostile in a similar manner, claiming he was not aware of what had happened with his wife and daughter. In his earlier statement to police, he had said that “his wife Shinder Kaur had told him that bus driver and other staff first molested and misbehaved with her daughter and then pushed both of them out of the bus”.
“The next hearing is scheduled for March 25 now. The victim’s brother Akashdeep Singh is also an eye witness in the case but the prime witness and complainant is the mother. She took a U-turn from her earlier statements today,” the public prosecutor in the case told The Indian Express,
Passengers in the bus at the time have also recorded their statements in court amd have also denied ‘seeing or hearing anything that day’. Bus driver Ranjit Singh, conductor Sukhwinder Singh, helper Gurdeep Singh and the fourth accused Amarjeet Singh are behind the bars in the case.
Family wants to ‘move on’
Speaking to The Indian Express at her home in Moga two days ahead of the hearing, Shinder had said that tragic episode was a ‘closed chapter now’ and that she was in no condition, because of an illness, to recollect the details of the incident.
Sukhdev Singh said the family wanted to move on and lead a ‘normal’ life. “We do not have any enmity with anyone. Not even with the persons lodged in jail currently. Let this be a closed chapter as we do not want any punishment for them. I have a son and I get worried when he goes to school. I fear someone might harm him. We do not want any new problems in life,” he said.
Breaking her silence over why she did not appear before the Bali commission that was set up by the government to go into the incident, despite being summoned five times to record her statement, Shinder said, “I don’t know why I did not turn up. Whenever I think about April 29, I just remember me and Arsh boarding the bus. I handed over Rs 100 to the conductor for three tickets and we had an argument. I have no idea what happened after that. It’s blank at the moment. I cannot recall if we were pushed off the bus or fell on our own”.
The parents said the compensation promises made by government have been partially fulfilled till now. “We got the compensation amount of Rs 24 lakh but the government job and educatuion expenses for Arshdeep’s brother are still awaited. I am doing small jobs of denting and welding and my wife who earlier used to work as domestic help, is not in condition to work now. We do not want anyone to be punished but government should keep its promise and hand over an appointment letter at the earliest. We were also promised that local government school will be named after Arshdeep with her statue installed but this too has not been fulfilled,” the parents had said.
Sukhdev said that his wife cannot board a bus again in her life and thus he has arranged for a second hand Wagon-R car. “Three gunmen and three patrolling cops accompany us wherever we go. We are satisfied with our security arrangement but my wife cannot board a bus now. So we got a second hand car. I have no money for it, someone gifted it. But we want to get over it now. We will live with Arsh’s memories,” Sukhdev said.