Other States

Family of Punjab SWAT firing victim awaits justice

Mother of Inderjit Nanda aka Bittoo, who was shot dead by police, with a photograph of her son at Attari village in Amritsar on December 20, 2014. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

Mother of Inderjit Nanda aka Bittoo, who was shot dead by police, with a photograph of her son at Attari village in Amritsar on December 20, 2014. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar  

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“They should have killed me instead. I have no support left now,” wailed Usha, as she clutched on to a framed picture of her son, Inderjit Singh alias Bittoo, who was shot dead by the Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team of Punjab Police near International Attari Railway Station on November 28.

Though a special investigating team (SIT), headed by Superintendent of Police Manohar Lal has been constituted to probe into the reason behind Bittoo’s death, there has been no closure for the family yet and neither have they been provided any compensation. The police have even questioned if there was a bullet injury or if he got hit by a sharp object while trying to flee.

Unprovoked firing

However, for Usha and the villagers of Attari, it was a case of unprovoked firing. Bittoo just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He used to sell water at the Attari-Wagah border and used to support his family through the meagre earnings. But Bittoo was also a drug addict and would take injectible drugs.

On the fateful day, he was taking drugs along with Salim, a resident of New Abadi area of the village, near the railway station, when the police personnel challenged them. Somehow, rather than subjecting themselves to checking, the men fled, and the cops fired. Bittoo was hit and was killed.

“Who will now help me pay my rent,” asked Usha, who has now taken up odd jobs to support herself. Her husband had died about 11 years ago. “Now the police say he was a drug smuggler, had that been the case, had we also not built our bungalows?” she asked, adding that the police should accept its mistake and compensate the family now.

Salim's fate

But that appears a far cry. At the residence of Salim, the youth who was with Bittoo at the time of the incident, the concern is now about the police showing him to be carrying a firearm at the time of the incident to pass off the killing as a genuine encounter.

At his ramshackle tenement, a mud hut, which stands barely 200 metres from the railway station, his two sons, Arjun Singh and Akash, were completely clueless about his whereabouts. His father Jeena, however, claimed that he was in Gumtala jail.

Salim was a ragpicker and his wife and two daughters were away. Their neighbours said they now beg or take up odd jobs to support a livelihood.

False cases

The incident has left the entire village very angry. Many residents complain that drug addicts in the village are often picked and thrust with false cases. “They picked up my grandson Kuldeep too and have been demanding money for his release. Already I have paid over Rs 3,000 for getting him released. He has been arrested thrice and put behind bars for three months, one month and one month respectively. I have not been able to secure his release for the third time,” complained Jasbir Kaur, another resident of the village.



 

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 7:02:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/family-of-punjab-swat-firing-victim-awaits-justice/article6725151.ece

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