Don't spare them

Two women linked with powerful politicians in Haryana have committed suicide over the past week.

Anuradha Bali alias Fiza, the second and estranged wife of Haryana politician Chander Mohan hanged herself as did Geetika Sharma, a former employee of MDLR, a defunct airline run by Haryana’s minister of state for home affairs, Gopal Kanda. Geetika named Kanda and Aruna Chadda, a senior executive at MDLR, in her suicide note, accusing them of harassment. The police are investigating how the two abetted Geetika’s suicide.

Kanda, who was summoned by the police for questioning, is absconding since Wednesday. It is hard to dispel the feeling that the police facilitated this. Although Kanda stepped down from his ministerial post, he is a powerful politician. It is more than likely that he worked the enormous influence he wields to ensure the police would go slow in their investigations. Although Geetika’s suicide note blaming Kanda was discovered on Sunday afternoon, it was only on Wednesday morning – almost three days after his name came up in connection with the suicide - that police called him in for questioning.  The police’s excuse for not calling him in earlier was that there was ‘no evidence’ linking him to the suicide. Interestingly, a similar ‘lack of evidence’ did not prevent them from summoning other MDLR employees, including Chadda, for questioning.

Kanda’s application for anticipatory bail has been rejected by a court and now he has no option but to appear before the inquiry officers. A man with a criminal past and a long history of notoriety, Kanda can be expected to go to any extent to subvert investigations, destroy evidence and intimidate possible witnesses. In the circumstances, granting bail would enable Kanda to evade justice, just as the police’s foot-dragging in questioning him gave him enough time to get away. The police should immediately spread the dragnet to find the accused, arrest him and begin the investigation in earnest.

It is important too that investigations into Geetika’s suicide are completed quickly and thoroughly without political or other interference. The case must be fast-tracked. Else, it will provide time and opportunity for the accused to pressure the family and other witnesses. The tragic death of Anuradha Bali alias Fiza also calls for a thorough investigation and the guilty to be booked. It is time the police and courts conduct themselves in a manner that revives public confidence in the country’s criminal justice system.

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