An Abohar court on Saturday remanded Akali sympathiser liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda in five days of police custody regarding a murder at his farmhouse recently.
Ferozepur range deputy inspector general (DIG) of police Amar Singh Chahal, who leads the four-member special investigation team, said: “After being presented in the court of justice Rahul Kumar at Abohar, Doda was handed over to the CIA (crime investigation agency) at Fazilka for further questioning.” After the Punjab and Haryana high court denied him anticipatory bail on Thursday, Doda had surrendered on Friday at the office of Fazilka senior superintendent of police (SSP) Indermohan Bhatti.
Doda’s anticipatory bail was first rejected by Fazilka additional district and sessions judge Jatinder Walia, following which he had moved the high court.
During arguments in the Fazilka court, Doda’s counsel had presented photographs and a video placing him in a Delhi hotel on December 11, the day Bhim was murdered at his farmhouse in Abohar. Opposing the anticipatory-bail application, public prosecutor Navdeep Girdhar had argued: “The call details of Doda and his nephew, Amit, suggest that prime accused Harry had called up Amit before and after the murder. The records seized from Doda’s farmhouse reveal that Bhim was his employee and Harry also worked for the liquor baron. The murder weapons were recovered from another employee of Doda, while several accused among the 26 booked were also found to be his workers.”
Surinder Tinna, counsel for the victims, said the police had substantial evidence against Doda and needed his custody to ascertain his role in the crime. “Moreover, Bhim’s dying declaration blaming Doda is enough to arrest him,” he said. After the arguments, Doda’s application was rejected.
The Fazilka police have, so far, arrested 23 accused, while three are on the run. A case under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 148 (armed riot) and 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against 17 people, initially. Later, following public outrage, police were forced to add the names of Doda, Amit and seven others to the FIR (first-information report).
On December 11, 2015, Bhim and his associate, Gurjant Singh, were attacked with sharp-edged weapons at Doda’s farmhouse. Bhim, whose limbs were chopped off, died later at a hospital in Amritsar. Gurjant, whose limbs were also severed, is under treatment.
Before surrendering, Doda had talked to the media, claiming innocence. “I am ready to undergo the lie-detector and narco-analysis tests to prove that neither I nor my family has anything to do with the murder of Bhim,” he had said.