In a shockingly embarrassing move, Punjab head of Aam Aadmi Party inducted Bant Singh and two of his assaulters at the same time in the party. Bant Singh later objected by expressing shock at the happening, and AAP leaders conveyed that they didn’t know the background of Navdeep Singh (alias Appi) and Harvinder Singh (alias Honey). Arvind Kejriwal seems to have apologized to Bant Singh personally since Bant is a popular Dalit icon in Punjab. AAP has been wooing the Dalit activist for sometime now. In April, the party wanted to honor him on the 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. Bant had declined to accept money / award from any political party.
AAP seems to have expelled both the convicts later but it is shocking to know that the party does inducting programs in such an arbitrary manner, without doing any background checks on people who they call on stage.
Bant Singh’s minor daughter, Baljit Kaur was gang raped in 2000. Bant Singh, could file an FIR only after a month despite pressure and various enticements from the village Panchayat which led to convictions of the assaulters Mandhir Singh, Dr. Tarsem and Gurmail Kaur. All the three were sentenced to life imprisonment. Bant Singh was brutally assaulted in 2006 by people related to the convicted, because of which both his forearms and one leg had to be amputated. His heart rendering story can be read here in detail, the story is more or less same through various sources. Bant was earlier associated with CPI (ML) but it seems that he was not provided any financial help by the then government.
Assaulters of Bant Singh have been out on bail since 2010. Two of these assaulters were called on stage for induction in AAP Punjab as mentioned above. There are various aspects of the case. While the mainstream media has constantly called this an upper caste atrocity over a Dalit worker, going by the testimony / write-up of Baljit Kaur in a local Punjabi portal clearly calls out that the assaulters belonged to the Congress party. Quoting a part of her statement written in 2007 :
‘Since my father had gone against the wishes of the Panchayat in getting justice, therefore the Sarpanch Jaswant Singh and his elder brother, who is an ex-sarpanch, and both of whom are local leaders of the Congress party. became sworn enemies of my father and started threatening him regularly.
My father was first attacked in August 2005 and the attackers were charged under Sec. 23-24 of the Indian Penal Code. He was attacked a second time in December 2005 and this time the guilty were booked under Sec.107 and 151. In both these cases the Sarpanch Jaswant got the bail for all the attackers and openly stated at the Joga police station itself that “even if you had injured him more seriously, I would still get you out on bail”. These same attackers dealt a deadly attack on my father on 5 January 2006 and the attack was conspired by the present and ex-Sarpanch and officials of the Joga police station. Two sons each of Jaswant Singh and Amrik Singh, Vicky and Babli, Appi and Sandeep respectively (who are also relatives of the rapist Mandhir), Honey, S/o Inderjit Singh, and Gurditta and Didar were the main attackers.
I demand that both the Sarpanch belonging to the Congress party be booked under Sec.120B and immediately arrested, the SHO of the Joga police station be suspended immediately and case filed against him for hobnobbing with the criminals, a life-long attendant be provided to my father along with a compensation of Rupees Ten lakhs provision be made for looking after my brothers and sisters and one of us be given a permanent job.
The District Commissioner of Mansa has attempted to do away with the issues involved by getting himself photographed by the press while giving a cheque of just Rs. One lakh and some rations to my family. Is this sufficient for treatment of my father and to raise my siblings? The Amarinder Government in Punjab as well as the Administration is shielding the criminals. But my people, my Party and I will continue the struggle until my father and I get justice.
My father is currently admitted at PGI, Chandigarh, where the doctors are trying to save his other badly injured leg. If our demands are not fulfilled then I will be rather compelled to return this cheque of Rs.One lakh.’
Suprisingly, no mainstream media report had mentioned the proximity of assaulters / convicts with Indian National Congress. For example, this elaborate report by The Hindu on this news long back, does not mention even once that convicts were related to Congress. Ironically, a leftist Dalit activist who invoked Bhagat Singh in every second video was victimized by the people who were made powerful by the so called leftist party! Indeed, the voice of a simple man and his daughter from a tiny remote village in Punjab reached the English narrative half-baked.
Currently, Bant Singh is very useful for AAP and they will keep him happy until the state elections are over.
(Featured Image Credit : Amar Ujala)
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