Ending a four-day protest that had embarassed the ruling Badal family, the father of the girl molested and pushed to death from a moving bus on Sunday accepted the Punjab government’s offer of compensation and a job and also agreed for the post-mortem and cremation of the body.
The body of the teenaged girl was consigned to flames at her village Lande Ke at 8.35 pm amid tight security arrangements after the last rites were performed by the father, who insisted there was no compromise with the state government to end the deadlock.
Facing flak over the Moga bus incident on Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal met the father and other members of the victim’s family on Sunday evening and remained with them for 30 minutes.
Badal described the incident as “intolerable” and “painful” while the police said all the four accused had been arrested.
“I want to request that I want to perform the last rites of my daughter,” the victim’s father told reporters on Sunday.
He also said that he had agreed for the post-mortem “without any pressure”.
The father had so far been refusing to perform the cremation till a case was filed against Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and others who own the Orbit bus service and cancellation of licence to it. He had been staging a sit-in along with some local politicians to press his demands.
“Whatever the state government has offered to us is acceptable to me. They (state government) have fulfilled our demands and have assured us that my daughter’s killer will be punished,” the victim’s father said.
About compensation, he said he did not know about the quantum. “I cannot say about compensation. Whatever has been given to me is sufficient for me. I am happy that I will move away from here with my daughter,” he said.
The government had earlier offered a compensation of Rs 20 lakh, a government job for her injured mother, her free treatment and holding trial of the case in a fast track court but the family had rejected it.
Moga Deputy Commissioner Parminder Singh Gill said that Rs 24 lakh compensation to the affected family would be paid by Orbit Aviation, owners of the bus, instead of district administration. The money will be deposited with Red Cross Moga from where the money will be delivered to affected family.
The girl’s father also sought an end to the protest launched over the incident. “This protest should now come to an end…my daughter has already died. If my wife (who is in hospital) dies, then what will be the use of my life? Now I want to lead a normal life.”
Thanking those who supported him, he insisted, “Nobody including government or any officer has ever threatened me (for compromise).”
In view of security, the girl’s body which was in a mortuary at Singhpura village here was taken to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital at Faridkot, 55 km from here, for postmortem, official spokesman said on Sunday.
After the autopsy was completed at 7 PM, police took the body to the village for cremation through a longer route in order to prevent any law and order situation.
The girl’s injured mother, who has been admitted in civil hospital, also attended the cremation. Punjab Congress Chief Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress MP Santokh Chaudhary, ex-MLA Malti Thapar and Congress leader Inderjit Singh Zeera were also present there.
Nobody from the ruling party, including the local MLA, attended the cremation. However, when the cremation was going on, activists of Congress, PPP walked out of the ground, shouting slogans against Punjab government.
The breakthrough on Sunday came during a meeting between senior civil and police officials and family members even as protesters alleged that the state government forced its decision on the family.
A senior police officer said the family was convinced when informed about the progress in the investigation and the arrest of all four accused.
District administration had announced compensation for Rs 24 lakh, out of which Rs 4 lakh would be for their son’s education, besides Rs 6 lakh by Punjab SC BC Commission and government job to the girl’s injured mother. The expenses incurred on her treatment will also be borne by the government.
Opposition parties were demanding that the compensation should be borne by the bus owners rather than payment be made out of state exchequer.
The state government was under fire from several quarters including AAP and Congress over the incident, particularly since no cabinet minister yet had gone to meet the family of victim at Moga.
Meanwhile, facing severe criticism over “not properly handling the matter”, Punjab Police ADGP Iqbal Singh Sahota on Sunday met the victim’s family and took their son for identification parade of the accused.
Sahota, who is director of recently constituted Bureau of Investigation by the state government, assured the family members that there would be “proper and flawless” investigation in this matter.
Police had come under fire from several quarters for not recording the statement of boy who was also in the bus along with girl and his mother at the time of incident.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has assured the affected family that the justice would be delivered in full.
Expressing deep sorrow over death of the teenage girl, he said in the morning had said one could not compensate the loss of death.
“CM is personally overseeing the Moga crisis. He assures justice will be delivered in full to the family,” Harcharan Bains, Advisor (National Affairs & Media) to Punjab CM, said in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Police, however, insisted that no case could be registered against bus owners. “Law does not permit that we take action against a person who even does not have any knowledge of crime,” Moga SSP J S Khehra said.
On Saturday, district administration had ruled out the possibility of registration of case against bus owners, saying it was not legally possible.