SHO suspended for not responding to calls from witnesses

Witnesses to the shooting of ASI Ravinderpal Singh by Shiromani Akali Dal leader Ranjit Singh Rana and his aides in Amritsar said that while the station house officer of the Gharinda police station arrived with help, officials at the Chheharta police station failed to act. Even an armed guard at a nearby bank remained a silent spectator to the incident.

The station house officer at the Chheharta police station was suspended for not responding to calls from the victims and other witnesses and for failing to act on a complaint lodged on December 1 by Mr. Ravinderpal Singh’s family against Rana and his associates.

According to witnesses, the incident took place in a busy area near the Chhehatra police station; Rana is said to have pulled out a pistol and fired at the legs of Ravinderpal Singh and his daughter till he ran out of live ammunition. While no police help arrived, Rana and his group returned, armed with a rifle, with which he shot the police officer point blank. A group of people managed to chase the assailants away and save the girl, who was also injured. Ravinderpal Singh died on way to the hospital.

In a sharply worded reaction, the Dal Khalsa, a radical Sikh party, demanded that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal be divested of the Home portfolio as he had failed to maintain law and order. The party’s spokesperson, Kanwar Pal Singh, and general secretary Manjinder Singh said the prevailing “goonda culture” was an offshoot of the change that had crept into the Akali Dal under the leadership of the Badals over the past 15 years. “Possession of a membership card of the ruling party or its youth wing was, in itself, a license to do all immoral and illegal acts,” Mr. Kanwar Pal Singh said.

Dal Khalsa leaders pointed out that one Nishan Singh, who was also associated with the local Akali leadership in Faridkot district, had recently abducted a girl from her home after thrashing her parents.

State Congress unit president Amarinder Singh accused Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia of patronising goons to the extent that they had the audacity to kill an ASI. He sought to caution Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against allowing the State to veer towards lawlessness and jungle raj. “Better tame Bikram Majithia, who has constituted a brand of criminals and is rewarding them with party posts.”

Captain Amarinder Singh said the ASI could have been saved had Rana and his associates not attacked him again while he was being taken to the hospital. “So much so, the accused even fired at the police party that went to arrest him,” Captain Singh said, asking the Chief Minister to give an explanation as to who was patronising such activity.

The State government directed Mr. Majithia and State police chief Sumedh Singh Saini to visit the bereaved family and ordered that the Commissioner of Police, Amritsar, conduct a probe and fix responsibility.