The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wife stands by rape-accused MLA

Chandigarh, Aug. 13: Gaganjit Singh, Tamil Nadu governor S.S. Barnala’s son and Punjab legislator, was remanded in police custody for a day after he was accused of raping a domestic help-cum-masseuse hailing from Bengal.

The woman, a divorcee living with her sister in Gobind Nagar near here, has alleged in her complaint that she was assaulted by Gaganjit in an MLA Hostel flat allocated to him.

Gaganjit was produced before court at 1.30 pm today after a medical examination at the general hospital. Amid slogan-shouting against police by his supporters outside the court, the Opposition MLA said: “The truth will prevail sooner or later. I am innocent.”

Gaganjit was arrested yesterday under Section 376 of IPC, which deals with rape.

Chandigarh police had sought a three-day remand but the duration was cut short by the magistrate after hearing the deposition of Gaganjit’s counsel A.S. Sukheja.

“We are of the firm opinion that the case has been fabricated by Gaganjit’s political opponents. How can a rape take place in a small flat with family members around'” the lawyers asked.

Sukheja said the woman was taken to hospital by Gaganjit’s wife Harpreet. “The whole family was involved in taking her to hospital because she was bleeding profusely. The medical report only mentions her injuries and nothing else,” he said. The lawyer did not say what caused the bleeding.

The defence counsel claimed that “certain political quarters” were exerting “pressure” on the police to keep Gaganjit behind bars. He is expected to move a bail application tomorrow.

Harpreet, Gaganjit’s wife, said her husband is innocent. “You only have what the police are saying. You don’t have access to her (the alleged victim). We tried to help her by taking her to hospital as she was bleeding profusely. I, my sister-in-law and son were present in the house when the alleged rape is said to have taken place between 11.30 am and noon,” she said. “Someone, somewhere is playing a nasty game.”

Doctors are yet to certify rape and are awaiting the results of tests.

They have established a vaginal tear of over two centimetres. “But it could be caused by something else, like a tumour bursting. We are examining her carefully. Yesterday, she had to be operated on to stop the bleeding after Gaganjit’s wife Harpreet signed the form,” a doctor said.

With Assembly elections slated for early next year, the arrest of Gaganjit has come as a blow to the Shiromani Akali Dal as the ruling Congress is expected to make it a big plank. The Akali Dal has so far kept silent on the arrest.

Pampered sons, or kakas as they are referred to here, of senior Punjab politicians have always courted controversy.

Gaganjit first shot into the limelight when he led an armed brigade into the Golden Temple in 1987 to take on the militants hiding there. His father Barnala was then chief minister of Punjab.

Later, in 1994, slain Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s grandson Gurkirat was charged with molesting a French national. The case is expected to be dropped soon as the complainant failed to appear for any hearings.

Last week, Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo’s son Jayant was arrested after a chase triggered by a complaint of molestation.

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