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Two months on, Punjab orders probe into attack on African student

Nestor Ntbateganya, father of Yannick Nihangaza, outside a private hospital in Patiala on Friday.   | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR

The Punjab government on Friday ordered a probe into an incident of assault, which left an African student, Yannick Nizhanga (24), so badly injured that he slipped into a coma more than two months ago. The State's Chief Secretary has been directed to immediately get in touch with the family of the youth and assure all medical as well as financial assistance.

The inquiry into the incident has been ordered by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose office initially claimed ignorance about the event though the injured youth's father, Nestor Ntibateganya, had written twice for help in medical treatment and getting Mr. Nizhanga repatriated to Burundi.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Home Minister, has directed the Commissioner of Police at Jalandhar, Gaurav Yadav, to expedite investigations into the incident.

The External Affairs Ministry is also reported to have initiated the process to provide assistance to the victim and his family. Union Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur represents the Patiala constituency in the Lok Sabha.

Mr. Yadav said two persons had been arrested and charge sheeted in the case, while the third accused, who is believed to be from a family of influence, was absconding. Mr. Sukhbir Singh said nobody would be spared and justice would be ensured.

Mr. Nizhanga had enrolled in a graduation course in Computer Sciences at the privately-run Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar. Late in the evening on April 22, when he was ostensibly going to some party, some local youths attacked him. He received severe injuries on his head and was found on the roadside in a locality of Jalandhar city. While he was first admitted to the Civil Hospital in the city, Mr. Ntibateganya who subsequently arrived in India, shifted his son to Patiala, where he has been in a state of coma in the Intensive Care Unit ward of the Colombia Asia Hospital.

Mr. Nizhanga's condition and the apathy of the authorities came under media spotlight after Mr. Ntibateganya claimed that he had written to the Chief Minister twice but to no avail. In his letters on June 20 and June 25, Mr. Ntibateganya appealed to the Chief Minister for assistance as well as ensuring justice.

The investigations and follow-up treatment have shown that little more could be done as the victim had suffered extensive neurological damage. The father of the injured youth has sought financial and logistic support from the State government to pay for the medical expenses and meet the costs of transporting him back to his home country.

In his letter to Mr. Badal, he wrote that his son had done nothing to be in the present situation. “I am writing to you as a father writing to another father, someone who has known and experienced the love of a child and has given care and love to other human beings like you. I am also writing to you as a human being to another moral human being. I therefore beg that you listen to my words with your heart and act accordingly, thereafter, at your earliest convenience.”

“In a country that I believe to be a civilised one, where the laws of this land should be respected and evil be punished, I have been deeply troubled by the fact that the killers who stoned my wholly innocent son and left him for dead are still [roaming] free. I have been profoundly saddened, shocked and disappointed that nothing has been done by your government to look into this situation the way it should be,” he said in the letter which was said to have been forwarded to the Chief Minister through the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Patiala.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 3:31:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/two-months-on-punjab-orders-probe-into-attack-on-african-student/article3610440.ece

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