Following a surprise raid by Fazilka deputy commissioner, 25 people were booked and seven vehicles seized from Fazilka sub-jail. A total of 24 people, all affiliated to SAD, had come to meet SAD leader and liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda, who was lodged there in connection with a murder. The meeting was in violation of the specified time laid down for meeting inmates. Also, Rs 3.84 lakh in cash was recovered and 25 mobile phones were seized.
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The jail department on Thursday shifted Doda and his nephew, another accused, to Amritsar Central Jail. The raid was conducted on the direction of the Election Commission on Wednesday, when the model code of conduct came into force. Punjab Chief Electoral Officer V K Singh said the state home department had been asked to submit a detailed report on the matter within a month. The jail department has suspended deputy superintendent of Fazilka jail Jashandeep Singh, who was also booked.
The CEO said surprise raids were conducted at Fazilka and Amritsar jails on Wednesday evening, adding that nothing illegal was noticed in Amritsar jail.
It was learnt that Congress MLA from Abohar, Sunil Jakhar, had informed the CEO over phone about the “likely meeting of SAD leaders with Doda” around 4 pm.
Those arrested and released later included Ashok Ahuja, SAD’s Abohar constituency in-charge, SAD leaders Suresh Satija and Harcharan Singh and active SAD volunteers. They have been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, disobeying order of civil servant and trespass. Intriguingly, Doda was not named an accused in the FIR. ADGP-cum-police nodal officer for Punjab elections, V K Bhawra, said as Doda “did not commit any trespassing”, he was not named in the FIR.
ADGP (Jails) Rohit Chaudhary said Doda had returned to jail after attending a court hearing when the meeting took place in a room inside the jail complex, but outside the inner entry gate.
Jakhar questioned why Doda was not mentioned in the FIR. He also alleged that Doda was getting “VIP treatment. A room was refurbished and it had a TV, air-conditioner and a heater, besides a bed and sofa”. Jakhar also alleged that he had information that “in one of the vehicles there was ammunition also, but that vehicle was not among those seized”.
“I am going to meet the Punjab CEO to ensure that proper action should be taken against the accused,” said Jakhar. Chaudhary said it would be probed whether Doda was getting VIP treatment.
Doda was lodged in Fazilka jail in connection with the murder of Bhim Taank, in a farmhouse of the former. Though allegations of Doda getting special treatment inside Fazilka jail and SAD leaders would meet him there had been levelled a number of times in the past, no raid had been conducted in the past.
Police sources SSP Fazilka Narinder Bhargava was initially did not know about the raid. Fazilka SP (Headquarters) Kanwardeep Kaur accompanied the DC for the raid. A senior police officer said, “Bhargava was later informed about the raid as the raiding party needed reinforcements.” Bhargava was not available for comment.
When the SP went in, she found seven vehicles and 24 people had gone to meet Doda. According to the FIR, when asked about the number of visitors, the jail superintendent said there were five people. But, 24 people were found during checking.
Meanwhile, PPCC president Captain Amarinder Singh demanded dismissal of the Badal government and imposition of President’s Rule. He said, “An inquiry needs to be conducted into this whole episode by an independent agency as to how they all went inside and what was the motive. This shows the full support of Sukhbir Badal to criminals lodged inside jail.”