Behbal Kalan firing: Key witness dies, family says he was being ‘harassed’

Raakhi Jagga
Behbal Kalan firing: Key witness dies, family says he was being ‘harassed’

Jasvir Kaur and Lakhwinder Singh, wife and son of Surjit Singh (below), the main witness in the Behbal Kalan firing case, who died of a heart attack five days ago. (Express photo: Gurmeet Singh)

FIVE DAYS after Surjit Singh (56), a key witness of the 2015 Behbal Kalan firing, died of heart attack at his house in Behbal Khurd village in Punjab’s Faridkot district, his family has alleged that he was under stress and was being harassed by power corporation employees. They also alleged that no Panthic organisation or the ruling Congress government had ever stood up in their support.

Surjit’s son Lakhwinder said his father was a former sarpanch of the village. “My father had appeared before the Justice Jora Singh Commission set up by the SAD-BJP government, and later the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission as well. He was the main witness of the Behbal Kalan firing.”

Two Sikh men, Krishna Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh, were killed after police allegedly opened fire at a crowd protesting against desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib near Behbal Kalan village of Kotkapura on October 14, 2015, when SAD was in power in the state.

Surjit’s wife Jasvir Kaur said, “In November last year, PSPCL came for a raid at our house and we were fined about Rs 55,000. Since then, we were being harassed by power corporation employees and my husband used to remain under stress.”

Lakhwinder said, “We were accused of power theft. Our meter had also been taken by PSPCL...we were framed in this incident for reasons best known to the department. We had deposited around Rs 25,000 as well but despite that we were being threatened that our tubewell supply will also be disconnected. My father was always anxious due to this and no one came to help him out...though he had approached the officials.”

He further said, “He (Surjit) appeared before commissions and dared to speak the truth...but no one came to help him when he was being troubled time and again. He used to remain sick after that, he had no heart problems earlier.”

Jasvir rued that no Panthic organisation ever came to support him “despite the fact that we used to regularly be part of Bargari Morcha”. However, Lakhwinder said, “My father is no more, but his statements have been recorded and a copy is with us as well, so we will want the culprits to be punished. I hope justice will prevail, though a link has been broken.”

The Indian Express tried contacting CMD PSPCL Baldev Singh Sran, but he was not available for comment.

Kin of firing victims: Case will weaken Sukhraj Singh, son of Krishan Bhagwan Singh, one of the firing victims, said, “The probe was already moving at a snail’s pace and now with the death of the prime witness, the case will weaken further. I appeal to the government to let the SIT make quick decisions in the case as three years have already passed after formation of this government.”

Sadhu Singh, father of Gurjeet Singh, the other victim, said, “The delays are intentional, no doubt the case will become weak. It is a sad incident for us and we are waiting for justice till date.”