Punjab Minister jailed for conspiracy in
Senior Punjab minister Jagir Kaur was Friday arrested and sent to
jail after being held guilty by a court here of conspiracy in the
mysterious death of her daughter in April 2000. However, the court
Chandigarh: Hardly a
few hours after her conviction and arrest Friday evening, former
Punjab cabinet minister Jagir Kaur continued to wield political
influence even as a prisoner of law.
Video footage emerging from Patiala and Kapurthala jails clearly
shows that Jagir Kaur, who was convicted of criminal conspiracy
and other charges in the mysterious death of her 19-year-old
daughter, Harpreet Kaur, in April 2000 and sent to jail, was
availing VIP treatment despite her conviction and arrest.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Patiala
Friday sentenced Jagir Kaur to five years rigorous imprisonment on
counts of forcible abortion, wrongful confinement, abduction and
criminal conspiracy. She was absolved of the charges of murder of
her daughter. Three others were also convicted by the court in the
Forced to resign as Punjab's minister for rural water supply and
sanitation and defence services after her conviction and arrest,
Jagir Kaur was accompanied out of the packed courtroom by police
"It appeared that the police officials were escorting and guarding
her from the crowd and media rather than taking her away as a
convicted criminal," a lawyer in Patiala courts told IANS.
She was led into a waiting air-conditioned grey-coloured Toyota
Innova luxury vehicle to be taken to the Patiala central jail.
Within hours of her being sent to the jail, her request to be
transferred to the Kapurthala central jail, nearly 200 km from
Patiala, was "promptly" acceded to. Jagir Kaur, who is head of a
cash-rich "dera" (sect) in Begowal village, belongs to the
Jagir Kaur was, late Friday night, driven under police escort,
which looked more like a ministerial convoy rather than being that
of a convicted criminal, in another white-coloured private
air-conditioned Toyota Innova luxury vehicle. In the car, she was
accompanied by only one woman police official seated next to her.
Her Innova was allowed to be driven straight inside the Kapurthala
jail complex where police officials in uniform and other jail
officials in plainclothes were waiting for her arrival.
To top it all, one official in plainclothes and a uniformed
officer bent to touch her feet as she alighted from the Innova car
in her trademark white salwar-kameez and a cotton dupatta over her
Former Congress legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira, whom Jagir Kaur
had recently defeated in the assembly election from the Bholath
seat in Kapurthala, Saturday demanded sack of the police officials
who touched the feet of Jagir Kaur and sought a probe into the VIP
treatment being extended to the former minister after her
conviction and arrest.
"Video footage shows jail officials, in uniform and civil clothes,
shamelessly touching her feet. I understand that she has been
extended the facility of a special darbar inside the jail where
people can meet her. All this is happening on the directions of
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. There should be an
inquiry and these officials should be sacked," Khaira said here
Raising questions over shifting Jagir Kaur from Patiala to the
Kapurthala jail, Khaira said the rules were being openly
circumvented, at the behest of the Badal government, to give VIP
treatment to Jagir Kaur.
He said justice could only be done if she is shifted to a jail
outside Punjab and treated like any other convicted criminal.
Jagir Kaur, who is a powerful politician in Punjab and considered
close to the chief minister, was inducted as a cabinet minister
March 14. She was the only woman minister in the Badal government.
Being a former SGPC chief twice, the lone woman to head the Sikh
body, she has a sizeable hold over Sikh religious affairs.
Her daughter had died under mysterious circumstances April 20,
2000, following which she was cremated hastily by the family
members. There was no post-mortem conducted. The Badal government
was in power at that time as well.
Harpreet had angered her mother and other family members by
secretly marrying a youth, Kamaljit Singh, who belonged to a lower
caste. Kamaljit belonged to Begowal village in Kapurthala district
where Jagir Kaur heads her dera.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)