Patiala: Senior Punjab minister Bibi Jagir Kaur has been arrested and sent to jail after being held guilty of conspiracy in the mysterious death of her daughter in April 2000. However, the court dropped murder charges against her.
A court in Patiala on Friday sentenced Jagir Kaur, minister for rural water supply and sanitation and defence services, to five years rigorous imprisonment.
She has resigned "on moral grounds" from the government that has just been re-elected to power.
19-year-old Harpeet Kaur was found dead on April 20, 2000 when Jagir Kaur was president of the powerful Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and was forced to resign after allegations that she was responsible for the death.
The case has been a complex one mainly because the investigation only began a few months after Harpreet's death and since there was no post mortem conducted, it made things difficult for the Central Bureau of Investigation. Harpreet was rushed to hospital from her mother's home by her domestic help and a doctor who later turned approver in the case. Doctors declared her dead on arrival, and no post-mortem was conducted.
Many witnesses have turned hostile since the trial began, including the man responsible for ensuring Harpreet's death was first investigated as a homicide.
On April 27, 2000, a man named Kamaljit Singh petitioned the Punjab High Court to commission an inquiry into Harpreet's death. He said Harpreet had married him secretly because her mother was opposed to their relationship. He produced photos and a video of their wedding to support his allegations. He said Harpreet was pregnant with their child and that Jagir Kaur had forced her to have an abortion.
The case was then handed to the CBI. But Kamaljit also turned hostile after that. He said that the video of the wedding that he had submitted was a ceremony staged on camera to pressure Jagir Kaur; he said he did not actually marry Harpreet.
Along with Jagir Kaur, six other people had been tried for her daughter's murder. One died during the course of the trial; two others have been acquitted today.