AMRITSAR: A cable operator who was a witness in the infamous Amritsar Siti cable sex scam of 2003 died in a hospital on Monday, two days after he consumed some poisonous substance in front of a few judges during a seminar on March 28.
Cable operator Jaswinder Singh alias Jassi, a resident of Gali Punjab Singh, took this step during a Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) seminar to highlight his alleged harassment by a lobby that controls the cable network business in the city.
In his suicide note, Jassi had alleged that a cable network managing director Sarabjit Singh Raju, his partner Pritpal Singh Lalli, husband of a municipal councillor, had caused him heavy losses and were threatening him not appear in the court in the 2003 case.”
Among others who were present during the function included TDSAT member Kuldeep Singh, Justice Satish Kumar Mittal of Punjab and Haryana high court, Justice Adersh Kumar Goel of the Supreme Court, TDSAT chairperson Justice Aftab Alam and other senior advocates
According to eyewitnesses, during the function Jaswinder took out a bottle and gulped down its contents and was rushed to a nearby private hospital.
In a complaint lodged at Civil Lines police station on March 29, it was stated that Jaswinder had consumed some poisonous substance during the seminar, and his suicide note blamed Sarabjit and Lalli.
On the basis of the note, a case was registered against Sarabjit and Lalli for rape, abduction and criminal intimidation under sections 376, 511, 365 and 506 of the IPC at the Civil Lines police station.
Jaswinder’s father Mangal Singh on Monday demanded strict action against the alleged accused for forcing his son to commit suicide. “My son was being threatened since he was witness to the Siti cable sex scam,” he alleged.
Victim’s wife Dalbir Kaur alleged that the network had taken away her husband’s business. He was also being stopped from giving statement in a CBI court and had gone into depression.
Amritsar commissioner of police JS Aulakh informed that police had conducted raids at the houses of both Sarabjit and Lalli, but they were at large.
Culprits enjoy pol patronage: Capt. Amrinder Singh
In a statement issued here, Amarinder alleged that the culprits were connected with the ruling party and the victim had been harassed to the extent that he ultimately decided to end his own life.
The former Chief Minister further alleged that the cable network company, which he said was “patronised by the government”, had been victimising individual cable operators to eliminate competition.
Warning that 2017 was not far, Amarinder said he would ensure that each and everyone involved is held accountable and brought to the book when Congress comes to power.
Case that brought shame to holy city
The Amritsar Siti Cable sex scandal that rocked the city in 2003 is a classic case of justice delayed is justice denied. As the wheels of justice moved at a snail’s pace, it gave ample time to the accused to pressure the key witnesses, one of whom was Jaswinder Singh who ended up killing himself.
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) led by its chairman Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) had exposed the scandal. Officials of the then Amritsar Communication Limited (which then ran Siti Cable) were booked on the charges of supplying girls to politicians, bureaucrats, judges and police officers. An FIR was lodged on May 23, 2003. A total of 18 persons were booked, of which the police had arrested Sarabjit Singh Raju, at present Fastway Cables’ local in charge, Hari Om Dhanoka, Gagan Bedi, Parveen Chadha and Sandeep Kumar. The case was transferred to the CBI with within a week.
A separate FIR was registered by the CBI on June 3, 2003. It also arrested the remaining 13 accused. But the CBI failed to produce challan within 90 days that facilitated bail to all the accused. The accused then allegedly started threatening the witnesses, numbering around 100. It took more than two years for the CBI to file a chargesheet in the case on August 17, 2005, while the charges were framed against the accused on May 26, 2006. The witnesses were summoned by the CBI court in Patiala on August 25, 2006, but the trial virtually got grounded after that.
Sarabjit Singh Verka of the PHRO said: “The CBI court summoned the case file and it remained with it for almost three years. The trial resumed on January 17, 2009. In a way, the actual trial began six years after the scandal was exposed.” When the trial restarted in January 2009, the witnesses started turning hostile. Jaswinder Singh, meanwhile, filed a complaint on July 11, 2009, stating that he was receiving threats. At that time he had deposed against the accused.
“He had also met the then CBI Director. The latter then directed the local police to provide protection to him, which he never got. The PHRO then moved a plea that the bail of the accused be cancelled and only after it the statements of witnesses be recorded.” Verka said despite the court order, the statements of 15 witnesses, including Jaswinder, were recorded on September 17, 2010, when Jaswinder turned hostile.
“Surprisingly, key accused in the case like Raju got security cover, but not the witnesses,” said Verka.
In September 2014, four witnesses moved an application before the CBI court for again recording their statements, but their plea was dismissed. One of the witnesses, Ram Singh, has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Jaswinder too planning to move the court, he added.