In an unprecedented move and against law, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Kamal Sharma on Friday visited industrialist Om Parkash Jindal and his son in the Kotwali police lockup here, where they are lodged over fraudulent purchase of Nabha's 18th-century royal palace, Hira Mahal.
Jindal has the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) that endorses the BJP, so his arrest has created furor in the party that's in the state's ruling alliance. The state BJP president stayed in the lockup for more than 20 minutes and at the Jindals' house in Nabha for two hours. A police pilot vehicle led his red-beacon car into the police station.
Law says that no one, except the detainee's lawyer, can meet the accused in the police custody. Under pressure, police had to make another exception, of bringing Jindal out of lockup. After Sharma found out that the media had got the whiff, he left the police station in a hurry, and when approached later, said only that it was "a personal visit". Devinder Attri, station house officer of Nabha Kotwali, said since he had been away from the police station for some investigation, he couldn't comment.
The BJP is building pressure on police for getting Jindal out on bail and ensuring that other members of his family are also not arrested. Jindal, his wife, two sons, and two other members of his family are charged with buying the Nabha palace by after it was declared as agricultural land fraudulently.
In a similar property matter in 2012, cabinet minister Madan Mohan Mittal had pressurised police and secured a deal for Jindal. Since he has strong RSS backup, the BJP is compelled to save its leader, even though now he is also charged with making the mutation of the land on the basis of forged municipal committee documents and booked under the Excise Act. Police claim to have seized 40 bottles of imported liquor, some of it very costly, from his house.
The Nabha court has extended the police custody of the accused by two days. With the BJP's coming into the picture, complainant Gurmel Singh has approached the Akal Takht, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Damdami Taksal and other Sikh orgainsations, since relics related to Guru Gobind Singh are missing from Hira Mehal, where they were on public display in a gurdwara. The erstwhile maharaja had donated the first-floor of his palace to a gurdwara trust. The relics are missing since the property was purchased illegally and the gurdwara closed.
Gurmel has also filed a petition in the high court.