'No Evidence to Link Punjab Teen's Death to Bus Owners,' Say Police as Badals Come Under Attack

'No Evidence to Link Punjab Teen's Death to Bus Owners,' Say Police as Badals Come Under Attack

Congress' Partap Bajwa meets the mother of a teen who died after being thrown out of a moving bus by molesters in Punjab's Moga (Press Trust of India photo)

Moga, Punjab: Amid a political storm in Punjab over the death of a 14-year-old girl who was molested and then thrown off a moving bus, a top police officer today said there is "no evidence to link it to the owners of the bus at the moment."

The bus in which the girl and her mother were attacked on Wednesday is run by Orbit Aviation, a company owned by Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister and the son of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Inspector General of Police Bathinda Zone PS Umranangal also said that the case was unlike the Uber rape case in Delhi, where, he said, owners of the cab service had flouted guidelines.

Comparisons to the Uber case - the service was banned in Delhi after a woman passenger was allegedly raped by a cab driver - have been made by opposition parties, who have demanded that the licence of Orbit Aviation be cancelled. They have alleged that buses run by Orbit often flout rules and that there is no fear of reprisal because of the Badal connection.

This bus had tinted windows and curtains, which are not allowed.

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The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party protested in Punjab and in Delhi, demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister and his daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is a minister at the Centre. The Congress wants a judicial inquiry, saying it does not trust local authorities to conduct a fair investigation. The party points out that it took the Punjab Police 15 hours to arrest four people.

The Punjab Police says it has acted swiftly in the case. It has also denied that the family of the girl is being pressured in any way. On Thursday, the girl's father said he had been taken away by the police who "forced" him to sign some papers. He said he cannot read "but I put my thumbprint on the document."

AS Chahal, Deputy Inspector General, Ferozepur Range claimed today that the father had only been made to sign his daughter's post-mortem report.