After the largest such seizure ahead of the Punjab assembly elections — 19,300 boxes (1.7 lakh litres) of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) — from his farmhouse in Ramsara village near Abohar on Tuesday night, liquor magnate Shiv Lal Doda is yet again in the spotlight. Behind bars on charges of conspiracy for murder of 27-year-old Dalit man Bhim Sain Tank in 2015, Doda is backing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Arun Narang from Abohar segment.
This comes less than a week after 10,000 boxes of liquor were seized from two godowns in Bathinda district.
On a tip-off, a police team led by Davinder Kumar, station house officer of Bahawala, raided the farmhouse, 7 km from Abohar and 32 km from district headquarters Fazilka, around midnight and seized 20 trucks loaded with the boxes inside and just outside it. Five men were arrested and presented on Wednesday before a local court that sent them to two days’ police remand. Booked under the Excise Act, the five were identified as Parshotam of Dera Bassi (SAS Nagar), Harinder Pal and Naresh Kumar of Abohar, Robin from Hardoi district (UP), and Shahid of Saharanpur (UP).
Doda, who owed allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) SAD and was also considered close to some leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had finished second as an independent candidate in 2012 against Sunil Jakhar of the Congress. This time, he filed papers again and was later unable to technically withdraw his nomination because he is lodged in the Amritsar jail. But he has announced support to the BJP candidate.
He was shifted from the Fazilka prison only last month after his supporters — including SAD circle president Ashok Ahuja — were found inside the jail holding an illegal meeting with him ahead of his plans to contest the polls.
Jakhar was quick to point out how “it is ironical that despite so many checkpoints of the state police with assistance of paramilitary forces, liquor in such a huge quantity reached Abohar”.
When contacted, Ketan Baliram Patil, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Fazilka, acknowledged the seizure but expressed inability to reveal further information: “The matter is under investigation”.