Patiala ‘murder’: Mayor resigns but not arrested

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Patiala Mayor Jaspal Singh Pardhan on Monday tendered his resignation following his alleged involvement in the murder of a 28-year-old married woman, Parampreet Kaur. The mayor along with the victim's husband and her mother-in-law had been booked for murder.

The mayor's resignation comes in the wake of the directions issued by Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sukhbir had asked the mayor to resign from the post immediately in view of the case registered against him.

However, even after two days of the mayor facing murder charges, he has not been arrested. The police have not even questioned him, say sources. The other two accused — the victim's husband Harpreet Singh and her mother-in-law Paramjeet Kaur — were arrested on Sunday.

In a related development, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has formed a three-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe the murder. IG (crime) Shashi Prabha Trivedi is heading the team. The other two members are DIG R K Jaiswal and SP Balbir Singh. IG (Patiala) Paramjit Singh Gill and SSP Gurpreet Singh Gill are assisting the team, which has been asked to carry out the probe impartially and submit its report at the earliest.

On Monday, the SIT members visited the family of the accused at their residence in Harinder Nagar. The family told the SIT members that Pardhan was present at the victim's bedside when she was murdered and his direct involvement in the alleged murder could not be ruled out.

"I received a call from my brother around Sunday noon that I should reach my daughter's place. When I reached there, I saw her lying on the bed with a bedsheet on her. I touched her and realised that she was cold. Pardhan was standing near the head while her husband and mother-in-law were standing on either side of the bed. I told them that she be rushed to a hospital immediately but Pardhan said that he had called a doctor at home and there was no need to take her to the hospital," said Amarjit Singh Sodhi, the victim's father.

Sodhi added that he insisted on taking Parampreet to the hospital and gathered a few neighbours to help him move her to the hospital. "All this while I was carrying her head in my lap and I knew that she was not alive. We reached the Rajindra Hospital and asked the doctor to try and revive her. Then I saw that she had strangulation marks on her neck and chest. The doctors put her on oxygen and tried to revive the heart but it was too late," he said. "In the hospital Pardhan arrived after us and started fighting with us. He even beat up my brother."

Sources say the post-mortem report points towards the victim having been strangled to death. Traces of poison too have been found in the blood.

The team also questioned the two accused arrested in the case. However, the team is tightlipped about its findings. It is not clear if the team will also be probing the alleged "relationship" between Pardhan and Paramjeet Kaur. The FIR lodged by Patiala police mentioned Pardhan as the father-in-law of the deceased and Paramjeet as the mother-in-law and Harpreet Singh as Pardhan's son.

Parampreet Kaur had married Harpreet Singh nine years ago and had two children, a six-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son. Her mother had died six months after her marriage. Her family alleged that Harpreet and his mother used to torture her and finally murdered her.

"All through the nine years of my daughter's marriage, Paramjit Kaur and Harpreet would extract something valuable from her. They would start saying that they had lost a gold chain or a ring and ask her to get it from us. Till a year ago, Harpreet's sister was also living in the same house. She would blame my daughter for thieving things and then these would be extracted from us," added Sodhi.

Pardhan was appointed mayor in September last year following unstinting support of Rural Development Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra. However, his relations with Rakhra had strained since. Following his resignation, the chances of Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, the former mayor, to become mayor once again have brightened. Kohli was the next strong contender for the post when Pardhan was made the mayor.

Arrest Pardhan for murder: Khaira

Jalandhar:Accusing Patiala Mayor Jaspal Pardhan of murdering Parampreet Kaur, former Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira demanded the mayor's immediate arrest. He claimed that the Punjab Police's failure to arrest Pardhan "once again indicated the extreme politicisation" of the force. He alleged that the mayor was not being arrested due to his proximity to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

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