By Divya Vijayakumar
Kulwinder Kaur, a dancer in her twenties, was fatally shot while performing at a wedding in Bathinda, Punjab on 3rd December. She was part of a four-member troupe that had been hired for the high-profile celebration where the groom was the son of a local commission agent.
The shooter allegedly belonged to a group of the groom’s friends who had attempted to join the dancers on stage before being turned away. He retaliated by gunning down Kaur. The police have put forward that he was inebriated at the time and he remains at large.
Details about the murder vary across platforms – with differences about her exact age, the location of the wound, the time of her death, the identity of the guilty and the caliber of the weapon used. Video footage of the crime which has been circulating on social media reveals a silhouetted figure at the helm of the crowd take possession of a rifle and aim it towards the group. Kulwinder, dancing towards the front of the stage, crumples to the ground as her colleagues come to a standstill. Her family members informed the press that she was pregnant at the time, but this was later refuted in the autopsy report. Her brother-in-law accused two men while rumors about the involvement of a prominent politician have also gained traction. She was 22 or 25, shot in the stomach or the head, dead on the spot or on the way to the hospital, three months pregnant or not at all, attacked by Billa and Deepak or Lucky Goyal with a .12 or .21 bore gun.
However, most headlines have remained startlingly consistent in labelling this a case of “celebratory firing” gone awry. Further, an interview with the Station House Officer shows him talking about the shooting as an “accident”.
This event comes on the heels of another “mistaken” shooting in Patiala, when Neha Sharma, also a young performer, was presumed to be an escaped convict and shot to death by the police while traveling with her troupe to a wedding. Most of the officers involved escaped the crime scene and are yet to be caught. Most of the officers involved fled the crime scene and only one was booked for murder.
While the specific contexts vary, they share a pattern of brutality against unarmed women by men with guns and require coverage that does not automatically frame them as isolated accidents.