The family of a Dalit labourer who died days after he was mercilessly thrashed and forced to drink own urine, ended their protest after Punjab government Monday announced a compensation of Rs 20 lakh, government job to the victim’s wife and free education for their three children.
The state government also announced a probe into the case by an additional director general of police rank officer, besides ensuring filling of challan against the four accused in court within seven days. All efforts would be made to ensure stringent punishment for the culprits within three months, a government statement said.
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta deputed ADGP Gurpreet Deo to undertake the inquiry and submit a list of recommendations to prevent unfortunate delays in the future in filing the case. The ADGP has also been mandated to probe lapses by officers, if any, to fix accountability so that disciplinary proceedings could be initiated against them.
Jagmale Singh, 37, died at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here on November 16. His family, supported by Zamin Prapati Sangharsh Committtee, had refused to allow the post mortem of the body or perform his last rites till their demand of Rs 50 lakh compensation and a government job for the victim’s wife were met.
The impasse ended after a group of ministers and Sandeep Sandhu, the political secretary to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, held marathon meetings with victim’s wife Manjeet Kaur and her supporters at the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
Sandhu said the family has agreed to a compensation of Rs 20 lakh, including Rs 8.15 lakh provided under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. He said Rs 6 lakh would be given on the day when the post-mortem of the body would be conducted and the remaining sum during the ‘bhog’ (post death ritual) ceremony of the victim. The government will bear the expenses for the bhog ceremony.
Sandhu said that as per a written agreement between the victim’s family and the state government, Jagmale’s wife would be given a group-D job near her residence, giving relaxation in the prescribed educational qualification. The government will also bear the education expenditure of his three children till their graduation, Sandhu said. Jagmale’s children are currently studying in classes nine, six and one.
He further said that a sum of Rs 1.25 lakh would also be given to the family for repair of their house and they will be provided ration for six months.
After his death on Saturday at the PGIMER here, protests had erupted in several parts of state. Jagmale’s family had refused to take his body and allow postmortem. They had been protesting at PGIMER campus, where Jagmale’s body was lying in the mortuary.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is on a visit abroad, is learnt to have had asked Cabinet ministers Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Vijay Inder Singla and Sandhu to intervene. Charanjeet Singh Channi, who belongs to Dalit community, was also included in the group that held talks with the family. Victim’s wife was accompanied by Gurmukh Singh, Gurdeep Singh and Gurpreet Singh of Sangharsh committee.
Aam Aadmi Party MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann raised the issue of the Jagmale’s death on the first day of Parliament’s Winter Session on Monday.
Activists of several organisations also staged a protest outside senior Congress leader and former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s house at Lehra in Sangrur district.
On October 21, the victim, who was a resident of Changaliwala village in Punjab’s Sangrur district, got into an altercation with one Rinku and some other persons. The dispute was resolved with the intervention of villagers, the police said.
Before his death, the victim had told the police that on November 7, Rinku called him to his house where the two talked about the issue. He had alleged that he was then brutally thrashed by four persons with a stick and an iron rod after being tied to a pillar and acid was poured into the wounds carved on his leg with a screwdriver. He had alleged that he was forced to drink urine when he asked for water.
After his condition deteriorated, his family shifted him to PGIMER, where his legs were amputated. He, however, died on Saturday.
The police had said that the accused had claimed that the victim was abusing them.
Rinku, Amarjit, Yadwinder and Binder were arrested on charges of abduction, wrongful confinement, and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act at the Lehra police station, the police said.
After the incident, the opposition parties attacked the Congress government over “barbaric treatment” being meted out to Dalits in the state. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said a “rule of jungle” was prevalent in the state.
AAP has a suggestion: Bring a law to auction killers’ property to pay compensation to Dalits
An Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Monday urged Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to pay a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the family of Jagmale Singh by auctioning the property of those guilty of having killed him rather than from the state exchequer.
Jagmale Singh, a Dalit from Sangrur was earlier this month brutally thrashed and forced to drink his own urine. He succumbed to his injuries Saturday morning at the PGIMER here.
“While there is definitely a need to pay the compensation to Jagmale’s family to secure the future of his children, but at the same time the deep in debt state of Punjab, which is almost bankrupt, should be spared of this financial burden and this should instead be paid after auctioning the property in the name of the perpetrators of the violence. By doing so, no one will dare do such a crime in future,” Arora said.
The Sunam MLA said that a law should be enacted so that the perpetrators of injustice against Dalits know that they will not only go behind bars for their crimes but will also have to pay from their pocket the compensation that is to be given to the victims’ family.
Arora said if state government doesn’t bring in a law regarding “this kind of payment of compensation”, he will bring a private member bill in the coming Assembly session.
Meanwhile, a four member committee constituted by the Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal visited Jagmale’s family at his native village Changaliwala. The committee was headed former MP Prem Sing Chandumajra and had Lehragaga MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa (the village falls in Lehragaga), Adampur MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu, and chairman of SAD SC/ST cell Gulzar Singh Ranike as its members .
Chadumajra said: “We have called a meeting of the party core committee on November 25 in which facts of this incident will be discussed. We will provide the family any legal help they want”.
On Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s request that the incidents hould not be politicised, Chandumajra said, “It is his responsibility to ensure that Dalits are protected in the state. If he is concerned about the incident becoming a political issue then he should ensure that such incidents should not occur”.
PU student bodies extend support
Chandigarh: Members of two student bodies of Panjab University (PU) - Students For Society (SFS) and Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) - Monday extended support to the family of Jagmale Singh whose family had been protesting at PGIMER here.
ASA vice president Jarnail Singh said, “We are here as the voice of Jagmale Singh’s family. Dalits are always suppressed... It is sad that such an incident took place when Punjab is celebrating the 550 birth anniversary year of Guru Nanak Devji”.
SFS members Sukhdev Singh said, “Our fight is not only for the family of Jagmale Singh. We always stand in solidarity with all the exploited classes”.
(With inputs from PTI)