An 18-year-old graduate student finally mustered all her courage to open up about the one-hour ordeal she underwent inside the Jaitu police station on January 12. Jaitu station house officer (SHO) Gurmeet Singh, who assaulted the three students, has been shifted to Police Lines.
“The SHO pulled me by my hair and dragged me inside the gypsy. I kept crying. ..There was no lady constable. I was pushed inside forcibly and SHO sir kept hurling abuses,” the girl told The Indian Express. She added: “I was standing at the bus stand at around 1.45 pm with my two friends (both boys) and suddenly SHO sir (then Jaitu SHO Gurmeet Singh) came. He asked, ‘Why are you standing here?’ We told him that we were students of Punjabi University’s regional college and were waiting for a Punjab Roadways bus. He said give me your mobile phones….I said, ‘Sir I don’t have a phone’. He asked us to sit in the police gypsy. I asked, ‘Why? What is my crime?’ He then forced my two friends to sit in the gypsy. They sat, but I refused. The SHO then pulled me by my hair and dragged me inside. I kept crying. I told him to check my ID card and call my parents. There was no lady constable. I was pushed inside forcibly and SHO sir kept hurling abuses. He used derogatory words for me in Punjabi”.
The girl further said that the boys were beaten black and blue in front of her. “They (boys) were asked to remove their shoes and then policemen hit their soles with sticks. We kept saying, ‘Sir, we are students, we did nothing wrong. We were just waiting for the bus’. But he did not listen. As my friends were being beaten, he said, ‘Iss kudi nu vi lamma paayo, hun ehdi vaari hai (now it’s her turn, beat her too)’. That is when other constables objected and asked him to spare me. They said, ‘Sir, this is not right, what is her mistake? How can we thrash a girl’,” she said.
The girl also claimed that the SHO then asked his men to make her smell socks of her friends. “He told his constables to make me smell socks of my friends. They denied to do so and said sir why are you doing this to a girl. What is her fault? I begged and cried. I said sir please call my parents. My friends also kept begging him to call their parents…The feet and legs of my friends swelled up, but the beating did not stop. Some constables objected, but the SHO did not utter a word…I was asked to leave at around 2.45 pm, but my friends were released at 6.30 pm,” she said.
However, Gurmeet Singh denied the girl’s allegations and told The Indian Express that he did not take the students to the police station. “We just told students at the bus stand not to stand there unnecessarily… I never took anyone to the police station….Also, it creates a bad impression among the public, when students stand unnecessarily at public places. So, we just got a little strict after receiving complaints from some residents,” he said.
Notably, it was during a dharna staged by the students demanding an apology from SHO Singh that DSP Baljinder Singh Sandhu shot himself dead with his service revolver on January 29. The bullet, which pierced through Baljinder Singh Sandhu’s head, hit his gunman in the eye, injuring him critically. The gunman also later succumbed to the injury.
The students were also demanding action against the SHO. A purported video clip of the entire incident had also gone viral. Sandhu was rushed to Guru Gobind Singh Medical Hospital in Faridkot where he was declared brought dead. The DSP, who belonged to Patiala, is survived by his wife and 21-year-old son.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the incident as unfortunate and assured that a thorough probe will be carried out.