In the home district of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, three workers of the opposition Congress are charged with running a gang of tractor thieves.
Based on "secret information", the police lodged a case at the Sadar police station in Muktsar district. Suspects Gurbant Singh and Raghubir Singh of Barkandi village and Teja Singh of Sanghudaun village are charged with making fake copies of the registration certificates (RCs) of tractors stolen from other states.
Two of the three suspects are diehard Congress supporters from Barkandi, ancestral village of Kanwarjit Singh Barkandi, candidate of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) who lost the assembly seat of Muktsar.
"The case was registered on a secret input from a source," said assistant sub-inspector Pritam Singh. The police also claimed to have recovered three stolen tractors and seized some fake RC from the suspects.
The Congress leaders of the region cry foul. "The suspects' only crime is that they are from the Congress that beat SAD candidate Barkandi in the last assembly contest at Muktsar," said local Congress leader Harnirpal Singh Kuku. Barkandi lost the seat to Karan Kaur Brar.
"It's a clear case of political vendetta," said Kuku. "After preliminary investigation, the police have handed over the tractors to the three men but withheld the RCs. The police are under political pressure to teach the Congress workers a lesson for making the SAD candidate lose his seat."
The Congress workers had brought the tractors from Jaspal Singh of Sirsa, said Kuku. "Jaspal has appeared before the Muktsar police already and owned up the tractors. The police still want to impose false charges on Congressmen." Jaspal has claimed that he brought the tractors from a dealer in Malout and sold it to the three men.
"Investigation is on," said Jasvir Singh, station house officer, Muktsar Sadar. "The RCs we found on the three men bear the stamp of the district transport officer (DTO) of Gurdaspur, the office of which has confirmed that it never issued these RCs."
Suspect's sister meets Jakhar
Manvir Kaur Gill, sister-in-law of suspect Gurbant Singh, took the matter to the Punjab leader of opposition, Sunil Jakhar, on Saturday. Jakhar assured her that he would raise it with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.