PUCL Bulletin, Oct. 2000

Punjab:
Wolves in Police Uniform

Press Release

Police assault two young women of village Rajiana, District Moga

A Report on the incident of August 16, 2000 at village Rajiana, Moga district, Punjab
(This Report was released at a press conference by Dr. Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary, Insaaf International on August 26.at Bhatinda. The two victims and their father were present.)

Incident
The team visited village Rajiana of Moga district of Punjab on 24. 8. 2000 and met the victims and their other family members. The facts as they emerged are as follows:

Jarnail Singh's two daughters, one unmarried and the other widow, of Village Rajiana in Moga District, became victims of police barbarism on 16.8.00. Gurmail Singh ASI (Assistant Sub Inspector of Police) of police station Baghapurana, District Moga raided the house of Jarnail Singh and his brother with heavy police force at about 5 PM on the said date. Policemen, after scaling the walls, entered the compound of the house. No male member was present in the house. ASI abused and threatened the women and singled out two daughters of Jarnail Singh, Rani and Kaur (name changed), for his sexual assault.

Gurmail Singh ASI hurled choicest vulgar abuses at Kaur (a widow with about one and half years old child in her lap). He said, " Tuin rundee, tain saade jogi hain. Tenu tain asi awdae naal he rakhya karaange. Saade hee kam aaingee" (You widow, you are for us only. We will keep you with us. You will serve our purpose only) and pulled her towards him. He caught hold of Rani (unmarried) from her shirt neck and tore her shirt through the length. She tried to cover her nakedness by her dupatta but that also was pulled and torn by the wolfish ASI. The perverted and sadistic ASI unbuttoned his trousers and stood naked in front of the women making vulgar gestures. He used such filthy language that it cannot be reproduced here. He gripped the young Rani and pinched her breast and other body parts. He tried to abduct the two girls by putting them in his jeep. The women started crying and screaming for help. They tried to free Rani as the ASI made an attempt to take her with him with the intention to rape her saying that he will finish her 'story' that day itself. He further threatened that if the family doesn't withdraw the case against Sadhu Singh, MLA they will be paraded naked in the whole village next time.

On hearing the screams of the women, neighbors and passerbys collected in the street. The Police team had blocked both sides of the street and none was allowed to come near the place of incident. At this critical moment some of the constables objected to the molestation and brutal behavior of ASI with the girls. At this the ASI withdrew with threats to come again.

The villagers were so terrified of the police brutality that many of them refused to talk
when Insaaf asked them about the incident, while many others, on the condition of anonymity, verified the truth of the matter. One of the shopkeepers totally denied knowledge of the incident by saying that his shop was closed that day.

Background
There is a long history of dispute and litigation between Jarnail Singh and Sadhu Singh since 1991. Sadhu Singh at present is a ruling Akali Dal MLA. According to Jarnail Singh he, his daughters Rani and her other sister and their mother are to depose against Sadhu Singh in Judicial court in a criminal case registered against the MLA. Prior to this incident Jarnail Singh has been 'picked up' and tortured many times by local police to pressurize him to withdraw his case against MLA. In one such illegal detention Jarnail Singh was recovered from the premises of the police station Baghapurana on 2.6.00 by the warrant officer of the honorable Punjab and Haryana High Court. But Jarnail Singh resisted all the attempts to cow him down. Then his two innocent daughters were made ultimate target to arm twist Jarnail Singh to withdraw the case against ruling party MLA.

Interview of Insaaf with Sadhu Singh MLA, SHO Baghapurana, and SSP Moga

Sadhu Singh MLA
Insaaf team met MLA at his residence in village Rajiana. He totally denied any personal dispute or litigation with Jarnail Singh. Though he admitted that he was helping the party opposed to Jarnail Singh, father of the two girls. He expressed his ignorance of the police raid and atrocities on the two girls on 16.8.00 in his own village. But he added some derogatory remarks against the girls. It is pertinent to note here that on a question raised in Punjab Assembly about the criminal records of the MLAs, Sadhu Singh's name figured on the top. When Insaaf team asked about this, he told them that this was due to political reasons. He said that recently he had met Chief Minister on whose orders home secretary wrote to SSP Moga recommending quashing of a long-standing criminal case against him. However SSP told Insaaf that there was nothing regarding withdrawal of case in that letter but instruction for conducting an inquiry into it.

SHO, Baghapurana
He denied any knowledge of the police raid and molestation of the girls. He said he could inform Insaaf only after consulting the record file, which he said, was not in the police station at that time.

SSP Moga
The SSP also denied any knowledge of this incidence. He assured full justice to the victims as soon as he gets any complaint about it. Though he told Insaaf that the MLA was a 'good person'.

Conclusion

Insaaf International after talking to the victims, eyewitnesses, villagers, Akali MLA, SHO and SSP concludes that the incidence did take place on 16.8.00. The heavy police force headed by Gurmail Singh ASI raided the house of Jarnail Singh and his brother. The whole area was surrounded and all exit and entry points were blocked. None was allowed to enter the house. The police while entering the house by scaling the walls did not take along any member of the Panchayat, or the Sarpanch or any villager. No male member was present in the house during the raid. Gurmail ASI abused and misbehaved with women of the house. He tried to abduct Rani and Kaur with intention to rape but they were saved by the protests of a few of the accompanying policemen. He molested and threatened Rani of dire consequences. He threatened Kaur and Rani of rape and to parade them naked in the village. Gurmail Singh is guilty of indecent exposure. Sadhu Singh MLA has a definite role in the whole affair. Though Sadhu Singh totally denied having any personal dispute with Jarnail Singh but Insaaf verified from the documents that Sadhu Singh is facing charges of injuring Jarnail Singh, his wife and others in 1991 in a case State Vs Jagjit Singh and others including Sadhu Singh.

The conduct of all the players in this brutal episode bears witness to the growing rot in our system and failures of the state. At present there is total collapse of administrative justice system in Punjab due to pre occupation of its chief minister in saving his government. This has reduced him to a puppet in hands of his cabinet colleagues and MLAs. There is total moral blindness on part of the politicians and bureaucrats. Violence against women has risen to staggering levels despite tall claims of government of improvement in status and condition of women. It is really very shame full and despicable that the very law making and enforcing agencies themselves are instrumental in degradation and active suppression of women. Because of this, crimes of violence against women continue to be perpetrated with near total impunity.

Women alleging humiliation, molestation and rape are often disbelieved and treated with disrespect by officials at all levels. Fear, silence and hesitation on part of common people to condemn, expose and punish those involved in such crimes will lead us into an abyss from which we will not be able to get out of.

Demands

· Immediate dismissal of Gurmail Singh ASI from service and registration of criminal case under appropriate sections against him.
· Time bound investigation and punishment to the police officials responsible for the atrocities on Kaur and Rani.
· Administrative assurance to Rani, Kaur and their family that they will not be harassed in future.
· Punjab Vidhan Sabha must take up the role of Sadhu Singh MLA in atrocities perpetrated upon two girls of village Rajiana of district Moga.
· All crime against women be immediately dealt with and stringent punishments be awarded to the guilty.
· We demand from the election commission to formulate certain laws to prohibit entry of persons with criminal records into legislatures. If an elected member indulges in criminal activities, he be disqualified from the membership.


Dr. Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary, Insaaf International, Punjab
Ved Prakash Gupta, General Secretary, Punjab PUCL

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