Benipal assault case

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GS Benipal stripped of his clothing and assaulted by Akali Workers

Major Gurinder Singh Benipal, a former army official, who is well known for his integrity, has exposed many corrupt deals in the revenue department where he works as a tehsildar. He was allegedly assaulted and stripped by a mob led by a few Akali activists in Ludhiana, because he refused to act on the diktats of various party leaders. The Major had dared to expose fake stamp papers used by the Akali dal to register properties at Ludhiana.

Major Benipal, a whistle- blower in the fake stamp paper scam and the main complainant, was resisting some illegal registries that Akali councilors Karwal and Simrajit Bains often pushed for. It is common knowledge that ruling party councilors are invariably involved in shady land deals. The official reason given by Karwal and his men for the fracas was that Beniwal did not give them preferential treatment! The Akali hoodlums beat up Beniwal who sustained a fracture in his right leg and was badly bruised. He was admitted to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital. He was beaten with sticks and rods, stripped naked, and was even fired at.

Duty comes first

Gurinder Singh Benipal had unearthed an alleged fake stamp paper scam in May 2009. The scam is claimed to have costed the state exchequer crores of rupees.

Outrageous Attack

In an outrageous attack on a sub-registrar, a bunch of SAD workers beat up Gurninder Singh Benipal at his office on 19 June 2009, Friday morning. In an ugly show of might amounting to lawlessness, a mob led by a few SAD councillors and local leaders assaulted the sub-registrar and tore off his clothes in front of the office staff.

Significantly, the incident occurred minutes after minister for tourism and jails Heera Singh Gabria left the sub-registrar’s office. It is an open fact that Heera Singh Gabria and SAD councillor Simranjit Singh Bains have differences over political issues. Sources revealed that an associate of Bains had gone to the sub-registrar office for some administrative work. However, Benipal refused to entertain him, stating that he was busy with Gabria at that time. Following this, a large number of SAD workers entered the office and started thrashing Benipal.

"A bunch of 40-50 people enterted the office and started beating up Benipal," an official said, on condition of anonymity.

Several colleagues of the sub-registrar witnessed the violent scene, while Kuldeep Singh, additional deputy commissioner, sustained a minor injury after he tried to intervene. Subsequently, the injured sub-registrar was shifted to DMC Hospital, where he is still undergoing treatment.

Notably, deputy commissioner and senior superintendent of police reached the spot to take control of the situation. However, the hooliganism of Bains’s supporters did not end there allegedly, as the DC and SSP, who were trying to leave the spot, were stopped on their way by the miscreants.

Staff protest brings work to a halt

Shocked by the entire incident, staff posted at the registrar office went on a protest, bringing work to a halt. "Until an action is taken against the culprits, we would continue with our indefinite strike. Patwari and Kanugo unions are also lending their support to us. We have also received feelers from IAS and PCS cadres of their supporting us," said KS Randhawa, patron, Revenue Officers’ Association.

Responding swiftly to the incident, Ajit Singh Kohar, state revenue minister, met the injured sub-registrar and assured justice. Kohar informed that a case under sections 307, 332, 353, 186, 148, 49 and 392 of the IPC and sections 25, 27, 53, 59 of the Arms Act has been registered against eight people — Jagjeet Singh, Harbans Singh Raju, Gurpreet Singh, Dippy, Reeka, Matota, Nonna and SAD councillor Karamjit Singh Karwal. Significantly, Benipal had recently requested the police to provide him security.

Youth Akali Dal Claims

Suspecting foul play in the episode of SAD councillors Simarjit Singh Bains and Kanwaljit Singh Karwal, who have been arrested for assault on Tehsildar G.S. Benipal, the executive committee of the Youth Akali Dal (YAD) has urged the Punjab government to order a judicial probe in this matter.

The demand was raised at a meeting of the district executive committee of Youth Akali Dal. The YAD office bearers showed their concern over SAD councillors being “treated like petty criminals.” They said that these councillors were not being provided basic facilities in the police lock up.

The YAD members alleged that while in past, the police did not seek a week-long police remand of any other accused in a political case, but in the case of Bains and Karwal, the police had taken seven-day remand of both the councillors. The YAD leaders alleged that in the Benipal case, charges had been framed against Bains and Karwal. They said that even the video footage of various TV channels had shown that Bains and Karwal arrived very late at the spot while Benipal was beaten up by the mob. They claim that it was not the SAD councillors who had thrashed Benipal but it was angry public who had beaten up the Tehsildar due to his alleged high-handed style of functioning and foul language used against a man from a scheduled caste community. The YAD leaders said that some people with vested interests were behind the registration of a case against Bains and Karwal. They said that everything could become clear if the state government ordered a judicial inquiry into this episode.

Stopping Wearing Turban

Radical Sikh groups of Punjab Monday presented a turban to state revenue official G.S. Benipal, who had stopped wearing one after being assaulted and stripped by youth Akali Dal activists and councillors in June. Representatives of various Sikh bodies like Damdami Taksal, Dal Khalsa and Akal Federation went to Benipal’s home in Kharar town in Punjab, around 10 km from here, Monday, to express support for him.

Bhai Mohkam Singh of Damdami Taksal said, “It is quite shameful that men accused of the attack are still moving freely. The miscreants have insulted the whole Sikh community and degraded the sanctity of the turban by removing Benipal’s turban and taking it away with them. He is hurt both physically and emotionally… that is why he has refused to wear a turban till his stolen turban is returned. We want the Akali Dal government, SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) and Akal Takht to intervene in this matter and to make sure that Benipal gets justice”. Singh claimed Benipal was in depression, as the government was mounting pressure on him to close the case.

Condemning the incident, Congress legislature Sukhpal Singh Khaira said, “It’s a matter of great shame for Punjabis all over the world that a senior Sikh officer has chosen to attend office sans his turban. Benipal was targeted by unscrupulous elements and his decision of not wearing a turban is a strong slap on the face of the Akali government. It is meaningless to take up the issues of French government banning turbans or the US Army not allowing Sikhs to wear their headgear, when we cannot save the turban in our own state”.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had condemned the assault on Benipal, saying that the government would not tolerate such acts. However, no action was taken against the accused.

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