Punjab: Protesters heckle MLA, vandalise his vehicle

Damaged car of Dharamkot MLA Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh at Civil Hospital in Moga. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

A day after a disc jockey (DJ) was allegedly shot dead at a pre-wedding party in village Maste Wala of Kot Ise Khan in Moga after he refused to play music post midnight, protesters heckled Dharamkot MLA Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh and also vandalised his vehicle. Police, meanwhile, said that one accused had been arrested in the murder case, while four others were still absconding.

After Karan Singh (18) was shot dead Sunday, an FIR was registered at Kot Ise Khan police station against five accused — Sukhdeep Singh of Dharam Singh Wala, Major Singh (father of the groom Nirvair Singh), Sharanpreet Singh of Saidey Shah Wala, Sukhchain Singh of Mastewala and Jagroop Singh of Ferozepur — on the statement of Gursewak Singh, cousin of the victim. Gursewak had accompanied him to provide DJ services at the residence of Major Singh.

According to the FIR, the accused first kept firing in the air to threaten DJ operators after they refused to play music after 10 pm. When they finally refused to go on beyond midnight, Sukhdeep Singh allegedly shot Karan dead with his 12-bore rifle. As per FIR, all accused were carrying weapons, except Jagroop Singh. The family has since refused to give its nod for the autopsy demanding arrest of all accused first.

On Monday, local Dharamkot MLA Sukhjit Singh Kala Lohgarh reached Civil Hospital in Moga to meet victim’s family where the protesters were sitting on a dharna demanding arrest of all accused.

Furious protesters attacked the MLA’s vehicle, a Toyoto Innova, while he was still inside and pelted it with stones and bricks. The protesters alleged that MLA Lohgarh gave ‘inappropriate’ statement on the spot and purportedly said, ‘Ehda taan kayi mundey marde rehende hain, eh kehda pehli vaar hoya hai (Many boys die like this. Such incident hasn’t happened for the first time).”

Dharamkot MLA Lohgarh while speaking to The Indian Express refuted giving any such statement and said that he had only gone to express sympathy with the grieving family but it “backfired”.

In the videos that went viral, the protesters kept pelting stones and bricks on MLA’s vehicle leading to its front glass being completely damaged. The MLA was sitting on the front seat next to the driver and he came out hurriedly as the pelting did not stop. The vehicle took a reverse turn as the protesters kept chasing it with bricks and rods in hands. Later, the MLA was taken to a nearby place in another vehicle.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Paramjit Singh, father of Karan Singh, said that they were yet to reach the hospital and the MLA purportedly gave this statement while arguing with other protesters. “Our primary demand is that all five accused should be arrested and only then we will get autopsy done. Also, we want SC/ST Act sections to be added to the FIR. We were yet to reach the hospital when MLA gave this statement while arguing with other protesters. We were told that he said, ‘Ehda taan kayi mundey marde rehende hain, eh kehda pehli vaar hoya hai (Many boys die like this. Such incident hasn’t happened for the first time)’. We will start an indefinite protest at Kot Ise Khan on Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, Inspector Amarjit Singh, SHO Kot Ise Khan police station said that one accused, Jagroop Singh, has been arrested while raids were on to arrest other four. “Family can come to us and tell us that they want SC/ST Act charges added but they did not tell us this. We are trying to arrest four other accused and trying to convince family that they should get autopsy done,” said the SHO.

Inspector Gurpreet Singh, SHO Moga City-2 police station, said that no complaint or statement has been received yet from MLA’s side for action in vehicle vandalised incident. “We will take action against protesters who damaged MLA’s vehicle only after receiving any written complaint from his side.

The MLA said: “I have known grandfather of the victim for years and yesterday too I went to their home to give my condolences. Today, I had to proceed to Chandigarh for a meeting and might not have been able to make it to the cremation. So, I decided to visit hospital but some protesters were already sitting there. I only went there to express my condolences and it backfired. I only told those protesters that they can continue their protest if they want to but police was trying its best to arrest the culprits. I even directed the SHO to arrest all accused at the earliest. However, protesters started arguing with me and told me to go back. They even instigated victim’s family against me. I never said those words and it is all a lie. Why would I say anything when someone has lost their young son,” he said.