The district police arrested radical Sikh leader Baljit Singh Daduwal (52) and two of his supporters on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday in a five-year-old attempt-to-murder case.
Though he belongs to Punjab, Daduwal has been a frontline supporter for a separate Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC). He figures in the 41-member ad hoc HSGMC, which is being opposed vociferously by Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal as well as the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
On March 16, 2009, the district police had booked Daduwal and eight other persons, besides several unidentified persons, under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others), 148 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Arms Act, following a clash with Dera Sacha Sauda supporters at Bajakhana village of the district.
The police have now registered a fresh case against Daduwal, besides Randhir Singh of Gurdaspur and Harjinder Singh from Bathinda, under the Arms Act after the recovery of nine ‘illegal’ weapons (seven rifles and two pistols) and about 300 cartridges from them.
However, the accused claimed that they had licences of the weapons recovered from them. Daduwal alleged that he had been arrested at the SGPC’s behest.
He claimed that the police arrested him from Jandalisar gurdwara near Kotshamir in Bathinda, whereas the police said they had nabbed them near Jaitu town of Faridkot district.
The police produced Daduwal and two others in the court of the additional chief judicial magistrate here on Friday and sought his police remand for eight days in the 2009 case. However, the court declined, saying that he had already been remanded in police custody in the case. Instead, the court remanded him in judicial custody.
The police then moved another application with the duty magistrate, seeking his police remand in the fresh case, which was granted for one day.
Daduwal’s supporters gathered in the court complex while he was being produced by the police. One of them said: “The main reason behind Daduwal’s arrest is that he has become an HSGMC (ad hoc) member. The Punjab government is upset at his support to a separate Sikh gurdwara panel in Haryana.”
Daduwal had filed a plea for anticipatory bail about a week ago. “Daduwal and two others have been sent to one-day police remand,” confirmed their advocate, Kulinder Singh Sekhon.