With the recent gruesome murder of a Dalit youth in an Akali leader’s farmhouse at Abohar and the death of two teenagers under the wheels of buses owned by a party leader in Muktsar and Ferozepur districts, the role of Shiromani Akali Dal’s halqa in-charges has increasingly come under the scanner.
The names of Shiv Lal Doda and Hardeep Singh “Dimpy” Dhillon — SAD halqa in-charges of Abohar and Gidderbaha respectively — have surfaced in these incidents.
These halqa in-charges have come under the scanner from time to time since they are accused of interfering in administrative and police affairs in their constituencies under the alleged patronage of their political bosses in the Punjab government.
Doda, a liquor baron, has been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy in the murder of 27-year-old Dalit youth Bhim Sain, who was brutally killed at Doda’s farmhouse on December 11.
Two of the buses belonging to the New Deep Transport Company, owned by Dimpy Dhillon, considered a protégé of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, mowed down two teenagers on December 11 and 16.
Later on, the transport firm had struck a compromise in both the cases.
In March this year, SAD Ferozepur halqa in-charge Vardev Singh Mann’s name had found mention on a formal invitation card issued on the occasion of the state governmentsponsored martyrdom day.
“After this incident, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had claimed on the floor of the house that there was no post of a halqa in-charge in SAD. But halqa in-charges are operating in every constituency,” said Sunil Jakhar, Congress MLA from Abohar.
The Congress raised this issue accusing these halqa incharges of creating lawlessness, besides running parallel police stations by ensuring appointments of their favourites as station house masters (SHOs) at police stations under their jurisdiction.
After assuming the charge, director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora had instructed police officials and station house officers not to allow SAD halqa in-charges to interfere in police matters.
“By appointing halqa incharges, the SAD has undermined the institution of MLA. What is the point of making such appointments when people choose their representative through ballot system?” said Jakhar.
Senior SAD leader and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Balwinder Singh Bhunder said halqa in-charges are party workers and they have to meet officials from the administration and police to get routine works of party supporters done.
“The bus incidents were not the halqa in-charge’s error,” said Bhunder, while referring to Dimpy Dhillon.