Out to nab drug peddler in Haryana, Punjab cops thrashed, 7 in hospital

Raakhi Jagga
Video grab of the team assaulted in Sirsa district, Haryana.

A seven-member team of the Punjab Police was thrashed by nearly 100 villagers as it reached a Haryana village, Desu Jodha in Sirsa district, at 6.30 am to nab notorious drug peddler Kulwinder Singh Kinda. The police party also came under fire in which one cop, Kamaljeet, received a bullet injury in his chest. All seven police personnel received injuries in the attack and have been admitted to a private hospital in Bathinda for treatment.

A villager — Kinda’s paternal uncle Jagga Singh (50) — was killed in police firing. Another drug peddler, Gagandeep, who was taken along by the police to point out Kinda’s exact location, managed to escape during the clash. The operation was being carried out by CIA branch of the Bathinda police. Based on Bathinda police’s complaint, the Sirsa police have now lodged an FIR against Gagandeep, Kulwinder Kinda, Jassa Singh, Teja Singh and around 50 unidentified villagers on attempt to murder charges.

The cops were beaten up in full public view. The personnel were later rescued by Haryana Police.
In videos of the incident that have now gone viral, villagers can be seen beating up police personnel with sticks, bricks, chappals and even dragging them on the floor. Men, women and even children were part of the crowd that attack the police party.

Arun Kumar, IG, Bathinda range, said: “The CIA branch had arrested one Gagandeep Singh along with 6000 habit forming drugs two days back. To trace the supply chain they went to the Bathinda-Haryana border Wednesday morning along with Gagandeep at around 6.30 am to nab another peddler, Kulwinder Singh Kinda. Kulwinder belongs to the village Desu Jodha. Gagandeep went in first with the police team following him. However, Kulwinder entered the village and gathered villagers who attacked the cops and ensured that both Kulwinder and Gagandeep escaped....”

Bathinda SSP, Dr Nanak Singh, told The Indian Express: “One constable Kamaljeet Singh was hit by a bullet and is in the ICU. Team was being led by sub-inspector Harjeevan Singh, while ASIs Gurtej Singh, Jaskaran Singh, a female constable were also part of this seven-member team. All have been injured and admitted to the hospital.”

About the firing, he said: “Police fired in self-defense. Villagers fired at the police party too....The sequence of events will be revealed in the inquiry.” Interestingly, the Punjab Police had not intimated their Haryana counterparts about the operation. The CIA team involved had two vehicles, which were damaged in the attack. Most members of the team were in civil dress.

In the videos, Kamaljeet can be seen bleeding and being beaten up the mob, which was carrying sticks, bricks and sharp-edged weapons. Driver of the police vehicle was also beaten up and his clothes torn.  After attacking the police personnel, villagers staged a dharna outside the Dabwali police station. Jagga Singh’s body was taken to Sirsa civil hospital. No arrest have been made so far.

The villager killed in the firing was cremated in the evening. Meanwhile, the Haryana Police described the raid conducted in the village without informing local police as a “procedural lapse”. A spokesperson of Haryana Police said Bathinda police should have sought help by informing the local police before going to conduct the raid. “But no such information was given to the Sirsa police in this case, which shows a procedural lapse on the part of Bathinda police,” he said, adding that Haryana Police was investigating the matter.

Punjab Police team, which was attacked by villagers, opened fire in self-defence and villagers also fired gun shots at them in which police personnel were injured, the Haryana Police spokesperson said. After registration of complaints from both sides, the Haryana Police has taken up the matter with the Punjab Police at the highest level and all aspects of the case are being investigated. Meanwhile, Kuldeep Behniwal, Deputy Superintendent of Police of Haryana, said a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident. Kalianwali SDM and Tehsildar Dabwali will inquire into the matter.

We too are fed up of peddlers: Sarpanch

Desu Jodha is the first village of Haryana after crossing Punjab border from Bathinda side. It falls in Sirsa district of Haryana and has population of around 7000. As the videos of villagers beating up cops went viral on social media, Gurdeep Singh, the Sarpanch, told The Indian Express,”Around 200 persons live in one pocket of the village and they have rooms constructed within one large premises which is also called ‘vehra’. Police had gone there to nab Kulwinder Singh. Kulwinder is a peddler, villagers know about it and we too want action against such peddlers.

However, we had no idea that cops will also be attacked.” Gurdeep stated that the whole village did not attack cops. “Only a few attacked and hence the entire village is not supporting this action, rather we want drug peddlers to be arrested as our young boys fall prey to drugs. We are equally concerned,” he said.

About Kulwinder, he added: “Kulwinder and his brothers are believed to be involved in drug peddling, but we have never heard anything about Jagga Singh. We complained to Sirsa police a number of times to nab these drug peddlers, but have not yet succeeded. Clients keep on coming to that vehra for getting drugs, we are already upset with this problem.” He insisted that only a few persons in the village were involved in drug peddling.