Punjab: Dead man’s family to challenge Dhaner pardon

Raakhi Jagga
Farmer activist Manjeet Singh Dhaner with the kisan union members on his way to his village from Barnala . Gurmeet Singh

The family of a 85-year-old man, who was murdered in 2001, will move the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the pardon granted to farmer leader Manjeet Singh Dhaner by the Governor.

Dhaner, who was released Thursday from Barnala jail, Friday reached his native village to a rousing welcome.

Asked if he will contest elections in future, Dhaner said, “We believe in solving our issues with struggles and not by contesting elections. You must have seen in the past 46 days, not even a single politician was invited on to the stage of Pakka Morcha. We don’t believe in fighting elections to seek public support, but will continue getting issues redressed through public movements. Now, our next movement is against the FIRs lodged against farmers in stubble burning cases”.

Meanwhile, Gurpreet Singh Chhina, nephew of Dalip Singh who was murdered in 2001, said, “We will be moving HC to challenge the pardon granted to Dhaner by the Governor. He (Dalip Singh) was my paternal uncle and as per legal experts, the case can be filed by a blood relation only. So Dalip Singh’s daughter-in-law is coming to India specially for this purpose in another two days”.

On September 3, the apex court had dismissed an over eight-year-old appeal filed by Dhaner and upheld the High Court’s decision to convict him for life. The case pertained to the death of an 85-year-old man in 2001 during a protest by in Barnala court complex over a 1997 rape and murder case. The protest was being led by Dhaner, and the 85-year-old belonged to the family of the accused in the rape and murder case. While two other accused in the case - Narain Dutt and Prem Kumar - were acquitted, Dhaner’s sentence was upheld in the High Court.

Chhina was one of the four accused in the rape and murder case. Chhina said, “Even at that time farmer unions had implicated me, my brother and our two servants in the case just because body was recovered from our fields. We were innocent, but were still booked. Later in 2007, the farmer unions again created public pressure to get the punishment (to Dhaner) pardoned. What is the role of Supreme Court judges, if governor keeps pardoning the punishment? We had no connection with that girl. Despite that we were sentenced to life imprisonment and remained in jail for 11 years. Now, we are living in village Mehal Kalan and locals are supporting us”.

Narian Dutt, a member of Pakka Morcha and a close associate of Dhaner, said, “We had fought the case legally as well as via public movement and even now we will do the same. Everyone knows the truth behind the case. Minor girl’s body was recovered from the fields of this family and DNA of the hair in the hands of the girl had made us reach the accused. We are ready to fight out the case legally”.