January 24, 2018 | By Parmjeet Singh
Ludhiana: A Khanna resident committed suicide by jumping into Sirhind Canal on Tuesday (Jan. 23). Deceased named Rampal, aged 55, was being pressurised by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to depose as witness for the NIA in Durga Gupta killing case, while Rampal was not willing to do so. Family members of deceased say that the NIA was repeatedly calling Rampal for investigation and he was being threatened by the investigation agency in order to press him to stand as witness in this case.
Durga Gupta was a leader of Hindutva outfit Shiv Sena and he was shot dead by unidentified assailants on April 23, 2016. The Punjab police had registered a case in this regard. In November 2017, after the Punjab police arrested Jammu resident Taljit Singh @ Jimmy Singh who had returned from UK after 9 years, Scottish citizen Jagtar Singh Jaggi who was visiting Panjab for his marriage, Village Chuharwal (Ludhiana) resident Ramandeep Singh Bagga and Fatehgarh Sahib resident Hardeep Singh Shera the Punjab police chief and Punjab CM held a press conference and maintained that Durga Gupta killing case along with some other cases of killings of Hindu leaders and a Christian pastor were solved by the Punjab police. Later the Punjab government handed over the investigation to the National Investigation Agency.
Arrested persons were first taken on remand by the Punjab police for interrogation and later the NIA took them in custody and interrogated them.
Questions have began to arise over the claims by the investigation agencies after Rampal’s death. A report in a Punjabi vernacular, Ajit, observes: “[i]t appears that the NIA did not find any strong evidence in this case. For that reason the NIA is trying to pressurise people living in the vicinity of the place of incident to turn witnesses for it”.
Various other media reports have quoted family members of the deceased Rampal saying that Rampal made a phone call to his family members and told them that he was fed up by continous harrasment by the NIA.
A report in The Indian Express says that Rampal’s family members said that he “was being “mentally tortured” by the police and forced to become an eyewitness in the case”.
“He was scared. He had never faced police or visited any court in his entire life. He was an illiterate man. He left home early morning on his cycle and around 8.15, am we received a call. My daughter Yashoda picked up call. She handed over phone to me. He said take care of children, I am going. I will not return,” The Indian Express report quotes Kamlesh, wife of deceased Rampal.
“He kept repeating he did not see any murder. But they kept forcing him. He was often called by the Khanna police for questioning even during working hours. He earned just Rs 100-200 a day and that too had become difficult because of this daily hassle,” IE quotes Manish, Rampal’s elder son.
Inspector Rajneesh Sood, SHO Khanna has attempted to underplay incident. “There is no foul play in the case. He was a probable witness, not an accused in the case. If someone is asked to join the investigation, how can it be harassment?”, he reportedly told IE, while adding that “Maybe there was some internal issue in the family or his personal life”.
The report in Ajit newspaper says that the NIA is in search of witnesses but the shopkeepers in the vicinity of place of occurance are reluctant to despose as witnesses. It further states that “Meanwhile some people told that the NIA is apporaching people who are from a place located at a considerable distance from the place of occurance to turn as witnesses in this case, where as its unlikely that they would have any information about the incident. These people are complaining harrasment for that reason”. (Ess darmiyan kujh lokan ne keha ke N. I. A. ghatna sthan ton kafi door-door tak de lokan, jinah da ess ghatna bare koi jaankari hon da matlab hi nahib, nu v gavahi den lai bula rahi hai. Jis karan eh lok pareshan kite jaan de dosh laa rahe han).
Related Topics: Congress Government in Punjab 2017-2022, Hardeep Singh Shera, Indian State, Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi (UK), Jaspal Singh Manjhpur (Advocate), NIA, NIA India, Punjab Police, Ramandeep Singh Chuharwal