IN an exemplary service of justice, though coming almost a decade after the incident of assault and rioting near Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh, 15 accused persons have been declared guilty and awarded penalty. The verdict assumes significance and has among the convicts a powerful politician — the MLA from Kalka in Haryana, Pardeep Chaudhary. While when the FIR was registered at the Nalagarh police station in 2011, Chaudhary was an INLD MLA from Kalka, he has since shifted to the Congress, making the move a couple of weeks before being again elected on the party ticket in October 2019. His might in the area is evident from the fact that he wrested the Kalka Assembly seat from the sitting BJP MLA, Latika Sharma.
The court of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Nalagarh, has convicted them of rioting, assault, use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty, mischief by fire or explosive substance and under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Each guilty person has been sentenced to three-year jail and slapped a fine of Rs 85,500. Credit goes to the prosecution for successfully establishing the case through witnesses and other evidence. The mayhem happened in June 2011 after a Kalka villager who had climbed an electricity pole at Barotiwala in Nalagarh to escape the traffic police got electrocuted and later died in the PGI, Chandigarh. His death triggered a violent protest by a mob from nearby Haryana villages as it placed the body at a crossing in Baddi. Policemen were attacked, two government vehicles set ablaze and the highway blocked, inconveniencing commuters.
Though mob violence, rioting, attack on officials and road blockades are not uncommon, such cases coming to a fair end is a rarity for various reasons, including shoddy investigation or prosecution and clout of the accused. The trial gives hope for a quick delivery of justice in similar cases pending in our courts. A high-profile case in the area is that of the daylight murder of assistant town planner Shail Bala, allegedly by a hotelier in Kasauli during an anti-encroachment drive in May 2018.