From a truck driver in the late 1980s, Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, an under-matriculate, rose to become a member of the management committee of Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar, from 2003-05 and later the chairman of the Uttarakhand minorities commission during the BJP tenure (2007-12) in the state.
Namdhari is an alleged conspirator in the Delhi farmhouse shootout which claimed the lives of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep Singh.
Talking about Namdhari, the three-time BJP MLA from Udham Singh Nagar district, Arvind Pandey, said, "It was with Ponty's support that Namdhari made it to the university's management committee. He even wanted to seize control of the university. A criminal case was registered against him in Haridwar."
Namdhari, who helped Pandey win the assembly elections twice, later developed strained relations with him due to business rivalry.
Namdhari's small-time agriculturist family shifted from Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana) in the early 1980s and settled in Bazpur, popularly known as 'Mini Punjab', in the foothills of Nainital. He worked as a truck driver till 1992. Later, he started business as a transporter and bought huge tracts of agricultural land. Now, he owns one stone crusher each in Bazpur (Uttarakhand) and Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh), beside a palatial house in Bazpur. He is also into the real-estate business.
Namdhari came close to Ponty after the former's name figured in an FIR regarding the killing of a notorious gangster of the region, Gurbachan Lal Sharma, in 1995. He also developed links with political leaders of Bazpur. Fourteen criminal cases, including charges of murder, land grab and attempt to murder, have been registered against Namdhari since 1995 across Uttarakhand (mostly in Bazpur). The court has cleared him in 12 cases and he is facing two cases in an Udham Singh Nagar court.
A Bazpur resident said Namdhari took care of Ponty's mining business in Haridwar in 1996-97. Two years ago, Namdhari went to Ethiopia (Africa) with Ponty to buy land, but the deal could not be finalised and Ponty suffered a loss of nearly Rs. 17 crore.