Akali leader's murder: Punj minister denies allegations

"The Akali Dal has made baseless allegations," Randhawa said appearing before the media for the first time after his name was dragged into the issue. (Twitter Image/@SSRandhawa_MLA)

Under fire from the opposition SAD over the murder of an Akali leader in Gurdaspur, Punjab Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Monday rejected the allegations that the Punjab Police was "trying to save" the accused at his "behest".

"The Akali Dal has made baseless allegations," Randhawa said appearing before the media for the first time after his name was dragged into the issue.         

Dalbir Singh Dhilwan (51), who was a two-time Sarpanch and the vice-president of the Gurdaspur unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal, was shot dead and his legs chopped off following an altercation on November 18.

The jails minister assured that the killers would be nabbed soon.         

"The guilty will not be spared and they will be arrested soon," said Randhawa, who was accompanied by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and several party MLAs.

The Punjab minister also junked the allegations that he had links with notorious gangster Jaggu Bhagwanpuria and "an extortion racket was being run under his patronage".         

Randhawa claimed that a total of 44 cases had been registered against Bhagwanpuria, of which 29 were lodged in Amritsar (Rural), Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia's constituency. 

He alleged that Bhagwanpuria's brother had managed to flee the country under the previous SAD-BJP regime.         

The minister also showed some photographs, allegedly showing Majithia with some criminals.

Randhawa said he was ready for a probe by a sitting high court judge provided Majithia also agreed for an inquiry into the allegations levelled against him.          

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar accused the SAD of trying to gain politically from the death of Akali leader as its existence was "under threat".

Meanwhile, the SAD on Monday sought the immediate dismissal of Randhawa for allegedly "patronising" the killers of the former Akali sarpanch.           

 In a party core committee meeting chaired by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, it was decided that a delegation of party legislators would meet the Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) and demand that a case be registered against Randhawa.

It was also decided that in case the DGP did not act in the matter, the SAD would take up the issue with Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore and demand immediate action against him, according to the party's statement.         

Meanwhile, SAD activists in Batala staged a protest outside the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) over the alleged "delay" in the arrest of the accused.         Led by local Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, they alleged that police were trying to save accused at the "behest" of Randhawa.         

A heavy police force was deployed outside the SSP office to prevent any untoward incident, officials said.         

The dharna was lifted after the SSP assured that the accused would be nabbed soon.

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