Even as Abohar Akali leader and liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda and his nephew Amit Doda, both prime accused in the brutal murder of a 27-year-old Dalit man, have been claiming innocence, police say their defence argument that they were in New Delhi on the day of the crime was not a solid one.
According to police, the duo has been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy and not executing a murder. So, it hardly makes any difference whether the accused were in the town or not on December 11 — the day when Bhim Sain Tonk was murdered, said cops.
The Dodas have claimed that they were busy in a “business meeting” with Congress MLA Rana Gurmit Sodhi in New Delhi on the said date.
Shiv Lal on Tuesday filed an anticipatory bail application before the court of additional district and session judge Ropal Arora at Fazilka. Shiv has sought bail on the ground that he was in New Delhi on December 11 and therefore had nothing to do with the murder.
Shiv also pleaded that in the past one year he never had any telephonic conversation with any of the accused booking in the initial FIR in the matter. He claimed he was being falsely implicated in the case, adding that it was conspiracy by his political rivals.
The court issued a notice to Fazilka police and fixed December 24 (Thursday) as next date of hearing.
“Following a statement of the complainant in the case, Shiv Lal and Amit were booked under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy). The probe is on to ascertain their role. We are trying to procure the footage of surveillance cameras at a hotel in New Delhi, where the duo claimed to be on the day of murder,” said Ferozepur range deputy inspector general of police Amar Singh Chahal.
Abohar wore a deserted look on Tuesday following a protest by representatives of ‘Valmiki’ community to demand immediate arrest of Shiv Lal Doda. All shops and business houses remained closed in Abohar. Some people also set afire a ‘liqour shop’ belonging to Dodas near Ramsara village.
In other parts of Fazilka and Ferozepur districts, shops were closed as protesters asked the state government to ensure justice in the case.
A court in Abohar sent the accused, including Harinder Singh Harry, Gulabiya and Radhiya, Vivek, Amarjit, Simran, Manpreet, Sukhjit, Mandeep and Gurpreet to two-day police remand while Amit Doda would be re-produced in court on December 30.
Cops’ soft corner for Doda?
While Fazilka police has been promising a free and fair probe into the case, it has “conveniently forgotten” to not mention the name of Shiv Lal Doda in a notice issued to a section of the media pertaining to absconding accused.
The notice mentions names and pictures of absconding accused Raja Singh, Wazir Singh, Ravinder alias Paari and Ajay alias Chauhan.
“We don’t have any soft corner for Doda or any other accused. As Doda is a prominent figure in the region, his photo and name was not required to be mentioned in the notice. We are trying our best to nab him,” claimed DIG Chahal, who is heading the four-member special inivestigation team formed to probe the matter.