The family of the 28-year-old woman,who was found murdered in Patiala on February 22,on Wednesday alleged that Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka had interfered with the investigation and put pressure on the special investigation team (SIT) to give a clean chit to the then Patiala mayor in the case.
The then Patiala mayor,Jaspal Singh Pradhan,was present at the murder site and is considered to be a close family friend of the victims husband and mother-in-law,who have been arrested for the murder of Parampreet Kaur. Pradhan had resigned following an order by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had constituted an SIT to probe the case. Two days before a new mayor was to be chosen,the SIT had given a clean chit to Pradhan without even questioning him once.
Amarjeet Singh Sodhi,the victims father,said Maluka was a member of the committee constituted by SAD to choose the new mayor and he was keen on Pradhan being made the mayor. The minister made the police give the mayor a clean chit. Why was he so keen on getting Pradhan back on the mayors seat will be known once a CBI probe is ordered into the case. We have no faith in the Punjab Police now, said Sodhi.
The family added that the SITs investigation was incomplete when the report was submitted. The mayor had not even been questioned by the SIT even once. The SIT chairperson,in her statements to the media,had admitted that Pradhan was underground and was not responding to their summons. She had said that the SIT would question Pradhan before the report is finalised, said the victims uncle,Tejinder Singh Sodhi.
Parampreet Kaur,mother of two,was found dead at her residence on February 22. Though her husband Harpreet Singh and mother-in-law tried to make it look like a suicide,the postmortem report stated that she had been murdered.
Pradhan was standing near the victims head while her husband and mother-in-law were on either side of the bed when we reached. I told them that she be taken to a hospital immediately but Pardhan said he had called a doctor at home and there was no need to take her to the hospital, said Parampreets father.
In the hospital,Pradhan arrived after us and started fighting with us. He even beat up my brother and tried to brush away everything, he added. None of these allegations had been looked into by the SIT in its report. While giving a clean chit to the mayor,the report stated that the victims family has not been able to give any evidence of the mayors involvement. Surfacing immediately after getting the clean chit,Pradhan had held a press conference and denied any role in the murder. He had claimed that he was available to join the investigations but the SIT never summoned him.
After moving the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding a CBI inquiry into the matter,the family now plans to move an additional application in the court on Thursday,demanding that Malukas role also be probed in the matter.
The family will produce before the court an audio recording of a conversation of a Patiala resident with Pradhans wife where she is allegedly assuring the caller that their money will be returned soon as the mayor gets a clean chit in the case.
In a recent press conference,Maluka had claimed he had not supported Pradhan in his bid to regain the mayors seat in Patiala. But I know that he is innocent. I also know for a fact that the victim had committed suicide and was not murdered,no matter what the postmortem report says. Pradhan was present in the house in the capacity of a mayor and not for any other reason. Just because he is the city mayor,does not mean he is party to every crime that takes place in the city, he had said.