July 21, 2020 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
The tactics adopted by National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India are once again under question after a witness questioned by NIA dies under mysterious circumstances. This is second such death in Punjab which is linked with NIA’s ongoing investigations. Earlier a witness named Rampal had committed suicide in 2018.
About the Victim:
The Sikh youth who was found dead on the late evening of the day when he was questioned by NIA is identified as Lovepreet Singh of Ratta Khera village in Dibrba constituency of Sangrur district. He was 23 years old and was serving as a Granthi at a Gurdwara Sahib in Sehjra village near Barnala.
Victim Lovepreet Singh Was Summoned by NIA:
Lovepreet Singh was summoned by the NIA for questioning at agency’s Model Jail Chandigarh (Sector 51) based office. The notice issued by Tejinder Singh (SP/CIO, NIA) had directed Lovepreet Singh to appear at NIA’s office on 13 July 2020.
Particulars of the Case:
Lovepreet Singh was summoned for questioning under case number RC-19/2020/NIA/DLI dated 5 April 2020 under section 124A, 153A, 153B and 120B IPC, sections 17, 18, and 19 UAPA and section 25 of Arms Act.
According to NIA this case arose out of case no. 152/2018 dated 19 October 2018 at PS Sultanwind, District Amritsar (City).
Lovepreet Singh Joins NIA’s Questioning in the Day, Dies Mysteriously at Night:
According to Lovepreet Singh’s family members he had gone to Chandigarh on 13 July to join NIA’s questioning.
“He went to answer the questions on 13 July and rang me at around 9 am to inform that he had reached Chandigarh. He said that he may not able to answer the phone for few hours”, said Lovepreet Singh’s father Kewal Singh.
“I tired to call him later in the day but Lovepreet Singh could not answer the call. Then, in the evening, I received a call from my son and he briefly updated me about the situation. He said that he would come to see me next day before going to Sehjra where he was doing job at a Gurdwara Sahib as Granthi“, said Kewal Singh.
Kewal Singh said that his son booked a room at Gurdwara Amb Sahib Mohali to spend the night there. He said that his son died on that night.
Body Was Found Hanging in Room: says Gurdwara Amb Sahib Manager
Talking to the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN), Gurdwara Amb Sahib manager Rajinder Singh said that Lovepreet Singh had taken a room after showing his Adhaar Card. He said that around 9 pm a sewadar noticed that a body was hanging in a room in Sarai.
“On learning about this we called police who broke into the room and found that a youth was hanging in with the ceiling fan” said Rajinder Singh. “There was a pocket diary on which a note was written”, added he.
A note written on a pocket diary found in the room where Lovepreet Singh died or committed suicide reads: “I apologise to my wife. I am leaving you in middle. I can never pay for what you have done for me. I will miss you. I had many plans with you in life but fate was not with us.”
Family Seeks Inquiry:
Lovepreet Singh’s family has sought inquiry into his death. Lovepreet Singh’s father Kewal Singh said that his son was a person who could end his life by committing suicide. He suspected that something wrong happened to his son.
Lovepreet Singh’s uncle (Chacha) also demanded that independent inquiry should be held into Lovepreet Singh’s death.
Villagers Back Family; Say Lovepreet Singh had a Clean Record:
Village Ratta Khera sarpanch Gurcharan Singh said that Lovepreet Singh was a good person and had no criminal record and was not involved in any untoward activity. “He was a nice young man. His family is a good and hardworking family and they are not involved in any sort of anti-social activity. They should get justice”, said he.
Another village resident, who is a former police officer, said that he knows the family since past many years and they are hard working people who were not involved in any sort of unlawful activity. Asserting that the family has been victimised by demise of Lovepreet Singh, he said that justice should delivered in this case.
No Criminal Record of Lovepreet Singh: Local Police
According to report published by the Indian Express (IE), Assistant Sub Inspector Surjit Singh at Lehra police station under which Lovepreet’s village Ratta Khera falls said: “There is no criminal record of Lovepreet at our police station”.
Police Victimising Innocents, But Protecting Culprits of Maur Bomb Blast:
Maur legislator Baldev Singh Kamalu maintained that the Punjab police and NIA have been unduly harassing innocent people by framing them under the draconian UAPA.
He said that the police and government have turned blind eye toward culprits of real unlawful activities such as Maur bomb blast of 2017.
“On 31 January 2017 a blast took place during an election rally at Maur. Seven persons, including five children, were killed in that blast. It has come into light many times that the investigation leads to Dera Sauda Sirsa (DSS) but the police and the government is not proceeding with the investigation in that matter” he said while adding that on the one hand police and government are protecting culprits of Maur blast but on the other hand they are framing innocent people under UAPA.
Family Lodges Application with SSP Seeking Inquiry:
Family members of deceased Lovepreet Singh along with Bhulakh MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Maur MLA Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Dhaula MLA Pirmal Singh lodged a complaint with Sangrur SSP demanding independent inquiry into Lovepreet Singh’s death.
Lovepreet Singh May Have Been Tortured, Sukhpal Singh Khaira:
“Many youths have been recently arrested under the UAPA law and it is very likely that Lovepreet may have been tortured both physically and mentally during the interrogation,” said Bhulath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
He added that an uncle of the deceased has disclosed to villagers that there were torture marks on the private parts of Lovepreet’s body.
Case Was Transferred to NIA During Trial:
It is worth noting that the original case registered in 2018 at police station Sultanwind was investigated by the Punjab police and it was being tried by a Sessions judge in Amritsar when it was suddenly transferred to NIA this year. It is pertinent to note that trail court had already examined ten witnesses in this case when the case was transferred to the NIA and the agency has started reinvestigating the matter.
The police had investigated total 30 persons in this case and police arrested and chargesheeted 11 of them. The NIA arrested the twelfth person, Pargat Singh, last month after taking the over case in April this year.
Another Witness Had Committed Suicide in 2018:
It is notable that Lovepreet Singh is not first person who was witness in a case being investigated by NIA and committed suicide. Earlier a Khanna resident had committed suicide by jumping into Sirhind Canal on January 23, 2018.
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.
Rampal had taken Durgra Gupta to hospital after he was shot by unidentified persons. NIA has pressurising him to identify arrested persons as assailants where as he was stressing that he did not saw the attackers and had only taken Durga Gupta to the hospital.
Family members of deceased had said 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.
NIA’s Tactics Should Be Investigated- Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur:
Talking to the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) Advocate Jaspal Sing Manjhpur said that many persons have told him that the NIA asserts pressure on witnesses or other person to depose according their agency’s will.
“NIA pressurises people. They are even threatened. All this happens so gravely that witnesses find it unbearable. Earlier Rampal had committed suicide in 2018 and now Lovepreet Singh has died. Their deaths have direct connections with NIA’s pressurising tactics”, said Advo. J S Manjhpur while adding that the matter should be independently investigated with specific focus on NIA’s modus operandi.
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