Keep away from assault victim, court tells Punjab Police

Chandigarh, March 18 (IANS) In a major embarrassment for Punjab Police, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday directed it to keep away from a young woman, recently assaulted in full public view by policemen in Tarn Taran district after she complained of being sexually assaulted by taxi drivers.

Coming down heavily on the Punjab Police, Justice Ranjit Singh directed that the victim and her family be provided security by central forces instead of the Punjab Police. He also ordered the transfer of Punjab Police officials, involved in the assault, from Tarn Taran within 24 hours.
The court pointed out that despite the Supreme Court taking cognizance of the assault on the victim by police officials, the Punjab Police was trying to “pressurize” her and her family to withdraw her complaint.
The court said that the Punjab Police had acted in a “barbaric manner” while assaulting a woman and was trying to pressurize her to withdraw the complaint. The court directed that no police officer should approach the victim and her family.
“Police cannot be permitted to act in this high-handed way. Once the hon’ble Supreme Court has taken notice of the incident, the action by police is an interference in the cause of justice. First police has acted in this barbaric manner. Now they have made the life of the petitioners miserable,” the court order said.
The court pointed out that the petitioner (victim) had alleged that the Tarn Taran police chief had offered her Rs.5 lakh if she withdrew the complaint.
The young woman was slapped, pushed, abused and hit with a baton by policemen in uniform in Punjab’s frontier district of Tarn Taran March 3.
The police personnel were caught on camera assaulting the young victim and her father after she reportedly complained against some taxi and truck drivers harassing her near a marriage palace in Tarn Taran, 280 km from here.
The incident was recorded by a bystander on his mobile phone Sunday and was aired by TV news channels.